No foreign chief guest for Republic Day parade due to COVID-19

No chief guest in the Republic Day Parade this year – a first in 55 years

The ministry of external affairs on Thursday said that this year there will not be any foreign head of state or government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event in view of the Covid-19 situation. It will be for the first time in over five decades, since 1966, that India will not have a chief guest at the Republic Day parade.

“Due to the global COVID 19 situation, it has been decided that this year there will not be a foreign head of state or head of government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing. India had invited Johnson as the Republic Day chief guest and he accepted India’s invitation, calling it “a great honour”. However, earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was to be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi, had cancelled his visit to India hours after he had announced a fresh lockdown in the United Kingdom over the new strain of coronavirus. The last time India did not send an invitation to any head of state was in 1966 due to the sudden death of then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, according to The Indian Express. The new government then led by Indira Gandhi was sworn in on January 24, 1966 – only two days ahead of the Republic Day celebrations.

A contingent of 122 soldiers of the Bangladesh Armed Forces will participate in the parade on January 26 to mark 50 years of the Liberation War that saw the birth of an independent country. This is only the third time in the history of the parade that a foreign military contingent has been invited to participate. A majority of the soldiers in the tri-services contingent come from the most distinguished units of the Bangladesh Army.