• Monday, June 24, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

India will continue to work for peace, prosperity: Modi to foreign leaders at swearing-in

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi meets a number of foreign dignitaries during his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on June 9, 2024. In this picture Modi is seen greeting his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Maldives president Mohamed Muizzu is seen at extreme left. (Photo by Elke Scholiers/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

TOP leaders from India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region including Maldives president Mohamed Muizzu, Nepal prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday (9) graced the swearing-in ceremony of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers.

Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Mauritius prime minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay and vice-president of Seychelles Ahmed Afif also attended the glittering ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of Indian president Droupadi Murmu.

Modi took the oath for the third straight term, days after the National Democratic Alliance led by his Bharatiya Janata Party secured 293 seats out of 543 in the parliamentary elections.

Read: On Modi’s oath-taking day, terrorists fire at pilgrims’ bus in Jammu and Kashmir

The country’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) said the participation of the leaders from India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region on the “momentous occasion” of the swearing-in ceremony of Modi and his ministers underlines India’s deep-rooted bonds of friendship and cooperation with the region.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Modi met the visiting leaders in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Read: Modi takes oath as PM for 3rd straight term, 72 ministers join

The leaders congratulated him for taking oath as the prime minister of India for the historic third consecutive term, the MEA said.

“Thanking them for gracing the occasion, the prime minister reaffirmed India’s commitment to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and ‘SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) Vision’.

“The prime minister emphasised that in his third term, India will continue to work for the peace, progress and prosperity of the region in close partnership with the countries even as it pursues its goal of Vikshit Bharat (developed India) by 2047,” it said.

“In this context, he called for deeper people-to-people ties and connectivity in the region. He further added that India would continue to amplify the voice of the Global South in the international arena,” the MEA said in a statement.

In a post on X, PM Modi said, “I am grateful to all the foreign dignitaries who joined the swearing-in ceremony. India will always work closely with our valued partners in pursuit of human progress.”

India has been cooperating with the countries of the Indian Ocean Region under the broader policy framework of SAGAR.

The foreign leaders also attended a banquet hosted by president Murmu in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The president while welcoming the leaders stated that India’s democratic exercise was not only a “moment of pride for its people, but an inspiration to millions around the world”, the MEA said.

Along with Modi, senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar were sworn in as cabinet ministers, indicating the prime minister’s emphasis on continuity and experience as they held senior positions in his second term.

The foreign leaders were sitting in the front row at the ceremony held at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

While Hasina and Afif reached Delhi on Saturday (8), Muizzu, Prachanda, Wickremesinghe, Jugnauth and Tobgay arrived on Sunday (9).

The leaders of regional grouping SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries, including former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, attended Modi’s first swearing ceremony when he took the reins as the prime minister after a massive electoral victory for BJP in 2014.

Leaders of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, in 2019 when he became prime minister for the second consecutive term.

Among the foreign leaders, the decision to invite Muizzu this year assumed significance as it came against the backdrop of the ties between India and the Maldives witnessing significant strain. It is Muizzu’s first visit to India after he became the island nation’s president on November 17 last year. The ties between India and the Maldives came under severe strain since Muizzu, known for his pro-China leanings, took charge of the top office. Within hours of his oath, he had demanded the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from his country. The Indian military personnel were replaced by civilians earlier this month.

(With agency inputs)

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