Former prime minister Manmohan Singh will not be attending Tuesday’s banquet for US President Donald Trump at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, news agency PTI reported. Singh had initially accepted the invite but later, on Monday, expressed his inability to attend the dinner, sources closed to him told PTI.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is also skipping the banquet hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind in protest over the party’s top leaders not being extended an invitation.
“Our party leader Sonia Gandhi has not been invited. President Trump is representing the biggest democracy of the world and the Indian Prime Minister is representing the largest democracy. Democracy has various implications, of which… inherent is decency and etiquette… When Modi visited America… both Republicans and Democrats were present on the podium at the Howdy Modi event,” he told The Sunday Express.
“But here, the meaning of democracy in the lexicon of Modi has changed. Here, it will only be a Modi show, as if India belongs to Modi… The Congress is a 134-year-old democratic party, and our leader is recognised by all democratic countries… But much to our chagrin… she has not been invited. It is a direct affront to the Congress. So, I cannot but refuse the invitation,” he said.
“Hundreds of crores are being wasted… The programme is nothing but a celebration to President Trump, who has already triumphed over Modi in terms of the trade deal… Trump will appear as a seller, and Modi a buyer… What is the outcome… what will India will gain… when the entire country has been for struggling for employment and minimum support price for farmers… what rationale can be put forward for this kind of celebration. It is nothing short of a political campaign being set in motion by President Trump in Ahmedabad,” he said.
On Tuesday, On the morning of February 25, Trump and the First Lady would be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. From there, they would go to Rajghat to pay homage at the ‘samadhi’ of Mahatma Gandhi.
It would be followed by restricted and delegation-level talks between Trump and Modi at Hyderabad House. Prime Minister Modi would host a lunch for the US president following the bilateral talks. In the evening, the US president will meet President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. A banquet will be hosted by Kovind. President Trump would depart from India later that evening.
with PTI inputs