After Donald Trump declined India’s invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade, the Narendra Damodaras government ponders which leader it should invite — and more important who will accept knowing that s/he wasn’t India’s first choice — to grace the occasion.
Even as the mandarins mull on who to invite, here’s a list of world leaders Prime Minister Modi could consider having over in January.
From enjoying a swing along the Sabarmati , to taking a boat ride and enjoying a chai on Wuhan’s East River, Modi and Xi seems to have done it all. So, why not have China’s Supreme Leader over for Republic Day?
If he accepts, Xi will only be the second Chinese leader to grace Republic Day — the first was in 1958, when Marshal Ye Jianying — one of Mao Xedong’s trusted generals — was the chief guest.
India and China enjoy a complicated relationship, some would even call them frenemies. Issues such as the huge trade imbalance (favouring China), the border dispute festering since the 1962 War, and China’s ‘all weather’ friendship with Pakistan rile India.
Perhaps, the invite will help thaw the Himalayan frost. Given how touchy the Chinese are about gestures and symbolism, it is unlikely Xi will accept such an invitation knowing that he was not India’s first choice. By inviting Xi in Trump’s place India would throw the gauntlet down at the Americans — would the panjandrums at the MEA want that?
P.S- This post first appeared on rediff.com