New Delhi: In view of widespread Corona Virus outbreak, no foreign guest will be present at the Republic Day parade on January 26, 2021, announced the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), making this event fourth in Indian history as the last time it had happened was in 1966, and before that in 1953 and 1952.
In his official announcement Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “Due to the global COVID-19 situation, it has been decided that this year there will not be a foreign head of state or head of govt as the chief guest at our Republic Day event.”
India, however, had extended an invite to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be the guest at the Republic Day who reportedly had accepted and confirmed his presence at the annual event. But earlier in January 2021, he had informed PM Narendra Modi of his inability to come due to the new strain of COVID-19 virus that had emerged in the UK.
The UK PM, on January 5, 2021, had cancelled his planned trip to India, citing the need to oversee the COVID-19 pandemic response at home. “The Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,” a Downing Street spokeswoman was quoted saying.
“In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus,” the spokeswoman had further added.
As per diplomatic relationships of India, only those guests are sent invites on Republic Day celebrated, in New Delhi, who are deemed close with the country. To note, PM Modi had sent invite to US President Barack Obama as the chief guest in 2015, which had sent across the message of growing ties Delhi-Washington partnership. Meanwhile, in 2018, all members of the ASEAN group were invited, thus, creating history since never before 10 heads of govt/states were present at the parade together.