Parties hail Sharif decision to attend swearing-in

Initiative will usher in new era in bilateral relations: NC, PDP

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:52 pm IST

Published - May 25, 2014 02:49 am IST - NEW DELHI

Barring some in the Sangh Parivar, all political parties on Saturday welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s decision to accept Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s invitation to his swearing-in ceremony on Monday.

With sections in the media hyping the invitation as a “bold initiative,” senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley described the swearing-in ceremony as a “celebration of democracy.”

“It should not be viewed through the prism of bilateral issues between countries. While celebrating the success of India’s democracy the fact that our neighbours through its leaders will be represented reaffirms India’s faith in both democracy and greater integration of the region,’’ he wrote in his blog.

However, downplaying the invitation to Pakistan as just a formality, Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok Singhal likened it to calling a neighbour home for a festivity. He cautioned that the invitation should not overshadow the fact that Pakistan had shown aggression towards India.

The Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and the two main parties of Jammu & Kashmir have welcomed the initiative. The Kashmir-based National Conference and People’s Democratic Party expressed the hope that this would usher in a new era in bilateral relations.

“Positive change”

Describing the invitation as a “positive change in Modi” compared to the things he was saying about Pakistan in the past, the former Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, however, said the Congress was of the view that “there is no basis for substantive talks” at the moment between the two countries.

While another Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed cautioned against compromising the national interest in the “euphoria of coronation,” the former Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said Mr. Modi was only pursuing a policy spelt out since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Maintaining that the Janata Dal (United) was always in favour of improving ties with Pakistan, party leader K. C. Tyagi drew attention to Mr. Modi’s “doublespeak.”

“He won this election by polarising Hindus with his statements against Pakistan and Bangladeshi refugees. When the former Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf came to India last year on a pilgrimage, the government was accused of treating him to biryani just because the External Affairs Minister hosted him lunch as a courtesy.”

Critical of the scale of planning for the swearing-in, Mr. Tyagi said, “After becoming India’s Prime Minister, he is now dreaming of becoming the SAARC leader in the RSS scheme of Akhand Bharat.” The coronation was being planned as if “he is some sort of chakravarty raja [emperor].”

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