3 Odds After British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Postponed Visit to India on Republic Day | India News
The protesting farmers have planned a rally of tractors in Delhi on January 26 unless their demands are met.
NEW DELHI: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson postponed his visit to India on January 5 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic situation in his country. As a result, he would also not be the main guest at the 72nd Republic Day celebrations in the national capital on January 26. This is an unusual situation for the country.
It has been quite rare in the country’s history for a foreign dignitary to have canceled their invitation to be present during the elaborate Republic Day parade ceremony at the last minute.
There are three odds on how the Republic Day parade could be held this year.
1. An alternate main guest
In the past, it has been only twice that a foreign dignitary, who was supposed to be the main guest at the Republic Day parade, turned down the offer at the last minute. The Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, had agreed to be the main guest at the 2013 Republic Day parade when the UPA-II government was in power and Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. However, he later declined the invitation. The then Foreign Minister, Salman Khurshid, rushed to Bhutan to formally invite King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck just a couple of weeks before Republic Day. The King agreed and on Republic Day 2013 he finally had a main guest.
A similar situation arose in 2019 when the Foreign Office was working on an invitation to the President of the United States, Donald Trump. The US administration is believed to have agreed to Trump’s visit, but no formal invitation was sent to Trump. A last minute arrangement was made and the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, agreed to be the main guest at the Republic Day celebrations. Trump did visit India, but it was a month later, on February 24, 2019, when he landed in Ahmedabad before arriving in the national capital.
2. Republic Day parade without a main guest
On three occasions in the past – 1952, 1953 and 1966 – the Republic Day parade was held without a foreign dignitary or head of state as the main guest.
It is very likely that this year’s Republic Day parade will also take place without a main guest from a foreign country.
Otherwise, there have also been four instances in the past where two or more foreign dignitaries witnessed the Republic Day parade as main guests. There were two main guests each in 1956, 1968 and 1974; and 10 heads of state of ASEAN countries in 2018.
3. Reduced Republic Day celebrations
The Narendra Modi government would obviously be under tremendous pressure in organizing the Republic Day parade this year. It is not only because of the cancellation of Johnson’s visit but also because of COVID-19 and the threat issued by farmers protesting at the Delhi borders against the three central agricultural laws of entering the national capital and pulling out a tractor rally. in the same. day if talks between them and the government fail.
This year’s Republic Day celebrations will most likely be reduced, primarily due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation, when health protocols call for social distancing, mandatory use of masks, and laundering o frequent hand disinfection. The administration would be hard-pressed to have all the rules follow the crowds that used to witness the parade in large numbers in previous years.
Second, farmers protesting the three new farm laws have threatened to enter the national capital and organize a tractor parade on Republic Day. They have already started making preparations for it. Several women from the Jind district of Haryana are learning to drive tractors so that they can participate in the “tractor parade”. The farmers had declared on January 2 that if their demands were not met, they would hold a ‘tractor parade’ to Delhi on January 26.
In these circumstances, the government may reduce public participation on Republic Day as a precautionary measure.