Home-cooked meals for the President of Bangladesh, vegetarian dumplings for the Bhutanese delegation and a quick meal at a seafood restaurant on Sardar Patel Marg for the Sri Lankan guests — hours before the swearing-in ceremony, three five-star hotels in the Capital were abuzz with staff of Heads of State, media and security deployment.
At the luxury hotel on Sardar Patel Marg, Bangladesh President Mohammad Abdul Hamid stayed in a suite while his son and daughter-in-law visited the Taj Mahal in Agra. “The President enjoys home-cooked meals and we are more than happy to oblige… we have been bringing him food from homes of officials of the Bangladesh High Commission,” said an official.
Hamid is among the delegates from BIMSTEC and other nations who arrived in the Capital to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oath-taking ceremony on Thursday. While some were accompanied by families, others travelled with cabinet ministers and close aides.
An official said that Hamid will meet PM Modi at Hyderabad House Friday to congratulate him on his victory, and “may offer prayers at a mosque in Delhi before leaving for Dhaka at 2pm”. A Bangladesh High Commission official said, “It is expected that he might extend an invitation to PM Modi to visit Bangladesh and could also discuss India’s support for rehabilitation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh.”
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena arrived at the Sardar Patel Marg hotel around noon with cabinet ministers Mano Ganesan, Senthil Thondaman, Rauff Hakeem and MP Arumugan Thondaman.
Some of the delegates accompanying him had lunch at the hotel’s seafood restaurant. They are scheduled to meet BJP leaders Friday afternoon and hold discussions about strengthening their trade pact with India.
Mano Ganesan, the Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister for National Integration, said, “We are here to wish good luck and strengthen the warm relationship between Sri Lanka and India… PM Modi, the ‘Chowkidar’, is back and we will use this opportunity to reaffirm our closeness.”
Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was among the last delegates to arrive at the hotel, and had to rush to the venue of the ceremony within a couple of hours.
At another luxury hotel a few kilometres away, the Mauritius delegation awaited the event. “This is a short trip and we are looking forward to the swearing-in ceremony. A bilateral meeting is also set to take place. The hospitality in India has always been amazing and this time is no exception,” said a member of the group.