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Monday, June 17, 2024

Who are the leaders invited to Modi’s swearing-in ceremony?


Leaders from seven countries are attending Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony after he secured a third historic term as prime minister following India’s general elections.

They will be among 9,000 guests, including foreign dignitaries and prominent people from around the world, who will be in the capital Delhi to attend Mr Modi’s oath-taking ceremony on Sunday.

The Indian foreign ministry said that leaders from Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and other neighbouring countries “have accepted the invitation to attend” Mr Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.

The foreign ministry also released a video on “know the esteemed guests from India’s neighbourhood and Indian Ocean region” attending the ceremony.

Sri Lanka prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Maldives president Mohamed Muizzu, prime minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal will mark the event with their presence.

Prime minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay, and vice president of Seychelles, Ahmed Afif, will also arrive in India.

“The visit of the leaders to attend the swearing-in ceremony of prime minister Shri Narendra Modi for his third consecutive term is in keeping with the highest priority accorded by India to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and ‘SAGAR’ vision,” the ministry said.

Full results from India’s marathon election, which began in mid-April, were released on Wednesday. Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fell short of a majority in the elections winning only 240 seats, well below the 272 needed, in a stunning outcome.

However, the BJP-led coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), won the election with 293 seats.

Mr Modi was elected as the leader of the coalition after securing the support of the alliance partners.

Narendra Modi, center, poses for a photograph with senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and to his left, Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu, and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar, during a meeting at his residence in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, 5 June 2024
Narendra Modi, center, poses for a photograph with senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and to his left, Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu, and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar, during a meeting at his residence in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, 5 June 2024 (AP)

Opposition INDIA alliance led by the Congress party put up a stronger-than-expected fight, doubling its strength from the last election to win 232 seats. Its leader said that the opposition will take “appropriate steps” at the “appropriate time”.

In his speech on Friday where he addressed his alliance members, Mr Modi said: “This alliance of ours reflects India‘s spirit in its true sense.

“We were neither defeated nor are we defeated … it was an NDA government in the past, still is and will be,” he added.

The oath-taking ceremony of Mr Modi will be held at the presidential palace, or Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Times of India reported. It will begin at 6pm on Sunday as the capital remains on high alert with section 144 imposed to restrict gathering of people.

Members from SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations have been invited to the event.

The leaders will also participate in a banquet hosted by president Droupadi Murmu at her residence the same evening.

More than 2,500 police personnel, including the police’s SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team and National Security Guard commandos, have been deployed across the city while multi-layered security has been deployed around the presidential palace.

Other special guests at the event will be labourers who were involved in the Central Vista redevelopment project and rat-hole miners who assisted in rescuing 41 trapped construction workers from a tunnel in Uttarakhand last year.

One of the most significant foreign visits would be of Maldivian president Mr Muizzu. His visit comes amid India’s strained relations with the Maldives after the pro-China candidate won elections in the islands with his “India out” campaign.

After coming to power in 2023, Mr Muizzu asked India to withdraw its military personnel from the island country and vowed to forge close ties with China.

Meanwhile, in a news conference, the Congress party’s main campaigner Rahul Gandhi demanded a parliamentary investigation into what he called the “biggest stock market scam,” alleging that Mr Modi and other top BJP ministers misled retail investors who ended up losing money.

India’s two main benchmark stock indexes hit new highs on Monday after exit polls predicted a BJP sweep, but dropped sharply on Tuesday to close down more than 5 per cent as early vote figures trickled in.

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