UPA chairperson and senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narerndra Modi as Prime Minister scheduled to take place on Thursday (May 30), according to a report. Sonia Gandhi will be among a number of Opposition leaders who will attend the event.
The report came hours after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday decided not to attend the swearing-in ceremony, citing 'untrue" claims by the BJP that 54 of the party workers were murdered in political violence in Bengal.
On Tuesday, Mamata Banerjee and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said they will attend the oath-taking ceremony. “I have spoken to other chief ministers also. Since it is a ceremonial programme, we thought of attending it. Yes, I will go,” Banerjee had said.
"Congratulations, new Prime Minister, Narendra Modiji. It was my plan to accept the "constitutional invitation" and attend the oath taking ceremony. However, in last one year, I am seeing media reports that the BJP are claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders in Bengal. These deaths may have occurred due to personal enemity, family quarrels and other disputes, nothing related to politics. There is no such record with us," Banerjee said in a tweet on Wednesday.
"So I am sorry, Narendra Modi ji, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony. The ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party which uses it as an opportunity to score political points. Please excuse me," she wrote on Twitter.
The just concluded Lok Sabha polls witnessed a heated verbal duel between Modi and Banerjee who spearheaded the campaigns of their parties in West Bengal.
Besides winning 303 Lok Sabha seats on his own (the NDA tally being 352), the BJP came up with a surprising poll show in West Bengal by bagging 18 of the state's 42 seats, only four less than the TMC's 22. The saffron party leapt from two seats in the state in 2014 to 18, while the TMC slided to 22 from 34.
An Indian government statement on Monday said the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan - all members, with India, of the little-known Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) - have been invited to Modi’s swearing-in.
“This is in line with Government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” a government spokesman said. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius have also been invited, but two sources in Indian’s foreign ministry said Pakistan will not be on the list, without providing further information.
For the swearing-in ceremony for Modi’s first term in 2014, all nations from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), that includes Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Maldives, were invited.In 2014 Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the ceremony.
India, however, will not invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony. In 2014 Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the ceremony.
Modi and Khan both claimed their air forces carried out air strikes in enemy territory in March, to the alarm of world powers. Modi, who was widely believed to have benefited politically from the stand-off, won a second term with an increased majority in a general election whose results were declared last week.
Khan called Modi on Sunday to congratulate him on his win.
Modi could still meet Khan at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Kyrgyzstan next month, that both leaders may attend.
(With PTI inputs)