Newly elected Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) on Thursday justified its decision to invite Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony saying it is an invitation to celebrate democracy and should be seen in that context.
Rejecting objections from some quarters to the invitation extended to President Rajapaksa, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told PTI, “this is essentially an attempt to participate in a joyful celebration of democracy and the invitation should be seen in that context”.
She said inviting SAARC countries is a responsible gesture for creating goodwill on the occasion when a newly-elected Prime Minister is being sworn in.
“We will certainly like to have our neighbours participate in this happy occasion,” she said and when asked about objections raised by certain NDA allies on inviting Rajapaksa, she said, “I am sure they will understand the reason for doing so.”
The DMK had said that Modi could have “avoided” inviting the Sri Lankan President for his swearing-in ceremony and should “understand the feelings” of people of Tamil Nadu.
The move has also not gone down well with some other parties in Tamil Nadu. Vaiko-led MDMK, which is part of the NDA, is also reportedly against the invitation extended to Rajapaksa.
Another BJP spokesman Capt Abhimanyu said inviting SAARC leaders was a positive step taken by the new government. Prakash Javadekar said Modi was only following in the footsteps of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in inviting India’s neighbours.
India has invited all heads of states of South Asian countries, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Modi’s oath-taking ceremony on Monday in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Mr. Sharif has not yet confirmed his presence at the swearing -in.