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Modi swearing-in will witness S Asia’s next-gen leaders

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is coming with son Namal, who is seen as his heir apparent.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: May 26, 2014 10:30:20 am

Narendra Modi’s swearing-in will witness the next generation of South Asian leaders in attendance, as at least four leaders are bringing their sons, daughters, nephews or nieces for the ceremony, top sources told The Indian Express on Sunday.

The family members will be part of their delegation, apart from ministers and officials.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be accompanied by eldest son Hussain as he reaches India on Monday. A businessman rather than a politician, Hussain Nawaz lives mostly in the Gulf. In his 40s, Hussain is believed to be the family’s fundraiser.

While there had been some speculation that Sharif may bring daughter Maryam, who is active in politics and has been quite vocal the past few days on the need for India and Pakistan to improve their ties, he eventually decided to get Hussain along.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is coming with son Namal, who is seen as his heir apparent. All of 28, Namal Rajapaksa is an MP from the family stronghold of Hambantota. A rugby player who captains the Sri Lankan rugby team, Namal incidentally was in Mumbai last year  for matches. Along with brother Yoshitha, he owns Carlton Sports Network, a sports, lifestyle and business television channel in Sri Lanka.

Namal also heads a youth organisation, Tharunyata Hetak (A Tomorrow for Youth), that aims to mobilise youth support for the ruling party.

Sources said Rajapaksa will also be accompanied by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris and senior officials.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom, who is former president Abdul Gayoom’s half-brother, is bringing his niece Dunya Maumoon. The daughter of Abdul Gayoom, who was president of Maldives for three decades, Dunya is the Foreign Minister of the country.

Dunya, who studied social anthropology at Cambridge University, England, and did her M.Phil from London School of Economics, was earlier the assistant representative head of the Maldives office of the UNFPA, and has written on the subject of gender and women’s role in Islam. She served as Maldives’s deputy minister of foreign affairs in 2007-2008.
In her late 30s, Dunya is believed to be taking the family’s political legacy forward.

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who belongs to the politically influential Koirala family, is bringing his niece Sujata Koirala and nephew Shashank Koirala. While Sujata is the daughter of ex-PM G P Koirala, she is also a former foreign minister. Shashank is an MP and the son of ex-PM B P Koirala. Their presence, sources said, reflects the fact that different branches of the family are standing in unity.

Ministry of External Affairs spokepserson Syed Akbaruddin said, “It is normal diplomatic practice that it is the privilege and the prerogative of the leader of the delegation to choose who he or she would like to have in his or her delegation.”

Apart from heads of state of SAARC region and diplomats, those invited for Monday evening’s swearing-in include chief ministers, politicians, RSS and VHP leaders and industry leaders like Gautam Adani, Mukesh and Anil Ambani and Ajay Shriram.

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