Invitation to Donald Trump to be chief guest comes during election year.
New Delhi: In yet another masterstroke by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has invited US President Donald Trump to be the chief guest for next year’s Republic Day parade. It is a masterstroke because the ‘big man’ will be coming just on the eve of general elections and the events accompanying the visit will be a great photo-op for Modi not only across India, but also across the world.
All other issues concerning the elections would go under the carpet and Modi will once again be the central point of discussion. Both Modi and Trump are powerful leaders having lot of things in common, including traits to be autocratic, nationalistic and pushers of controversial policies.
If Trump indeed agrees to come, the event will also be the biggest foreign policy coup for Modi in the past few years.
India is still awaiting an official response from the mercurial Trump, but the US has indicated that the administration is favourably considering the invite sent by India in April this year. The invite was followed up with several rounds of diplomatic engagement over the issue, according to the Times of India.
Trump’s mere presence is enough to be dramatic as he is highly unpredictable and he may even overshadow the events connected with the Republic Day.
His predecessor Barack Obama who was Modi’s first R-Day guest in 2015 and Trump will be the last during the first term of Modi administration.
The invite to Trump is also in line with the Modi government’s attempts to ensure the presence of international heavyweights on R-Day. Obama in 2015 was followed next year by then French president Francois Hollande as chief guest. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attended the parade in the same capacity in 2017. And in 2018, one of the foreign policy highlights for the government has been the presence of all 10 Asean leaders at the R-Day event.