The BJP on Thursday rejected objections in some quarters to the invitation extended to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, saying it is an invite to celebrate democracy and should be seen in that context.
“This is essentially an attempt to participate in a joyful celebration of democracy and the invite should be seen in that context,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
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 would certainly like to have our neighbours participate in this happy occasion,” she said.
Asked about objections raised by certain allies of the NDA on inviting Mr. Rajapaksa, she said, “I am sure they will understand the reason behind this invite.”
DMK on Thursday said Mr. 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. Mr. Vaiko-led MDMK, which is part of NDA, is also reportedly against the invitation extended to Mr. Rajapaksa.
Another BJP Spokesperson Capt Abhimanyu said sending invites to SAARC leaders was a positive step taken by the new government.
Prakash Javadekar said Mr. Modi is only following in the footsteps of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in extending invites to India’s neighbours.
India has extended an invitation to all heads of states of South Asian countries, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to Mr. Modi’s oath-taking ceremony slated for May 26 in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Mr. Sharif has not yet confirmed his presence at the swearing-in.