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MEA dismisses speculation on R-Day parade chief guest but suspense persists

Amidst speculation over the selection of the chief guest at the next year’s Republic Day parade, the Ministry of External Affairs on Monday said an announcement will be made at a “suitable time”. The official spokesperson dismissed media reports about an invite to the leaders of the BIMSTEC nations.

“We have seen a speculative media report regarding the Chief Guest for the Republic Day 2022. The report is inaccurate and has no factual basis,” said official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi to a newspaper report that said leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation will be the chief guest.

The grouping includes Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand and Myanmar which is facing a military crackdown since the junta overthrew the elected Government on February 1.

The report received special attention as a welcome at the parade would provide a platform to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, top leader of Myanmar’s notorious military regime which is facing several international sanctions following the coup. The BIMSTEC-related report came in the backdrop of reports in mainstream media in Bangladesh that hinted at back-channel talks undertaken to honour Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the chief guest.

India and Bangladesh are celebrating half century of diplomatic relations and no leader of Bangladesh has been invited to the R-Day parade in the last decades. While the MEA remains tight-lipped about the possibility of Sheikh Hasina’s visit, a source on Monday said, “As in the past years, we will announce at a suitable time”.

However, both sides are expected to see a few high-profile visits before January 26. President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to participate in the Vijay Divas celebrations in Dhaka — his first to the city — on December 16, as announcement by Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen last week. President Kovind’s Predecessor Pranab Mukherjee had long association with the current leadership of the Awami League.

That apart, unconfirmed reports suggest that Sheikh Hasina’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana too is expected in New Delhi in the first week of December. Both of them survived the massacre of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family on August 15, 1975. Ms. Rehana is among those who are likely to play a greater role in Bangladesh in the coming decade.

A high-level interaction was observed on Monday when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attended an event at the Bangladesh High Commission on the occasion of the Armed Forces Day of Bangladesh. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Singh recollected India-Bangladesh cooperation including the Mukti Bahini that fought alongside the Indian military forces in the war of 1971 and said, this year is of “extra-ordinary significance for relations”.


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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 10:23:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mea-dismisses-speculation-on-r-day-parade-chief-guest-but-suspense-persists/article37634873.ece

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