Ex-PMs of B’desh, Lanka ‘not allowed’ to attend swearing-in
The former prime ministers of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were ‘not allowed’ to attend the swearing-in-ceremony of Narendra Modi scheduled on 26 May at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan due to ‘internal issues’.
It was learnt that Khaleda Zia and Ranil Wickremesinghe (both former prime ministers and leader of oppositions in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka respectively) called up and had a word with the party’s central leadership on Wednesday.
They have expressed their wish to attend the ceremony. Zia reportedly told the party leaders that she will be happy to be included in the list of invitees. It was learnt that Hasina will leave Dhaka for Tokyo on 24 May night and will be there till 28 May.
Since, 2009 Hasina is holding the position of PM and previously she has served as PM of Bangladesh from 1996 to 2001. Bangladesh parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury will represent Bangladesh at the swearing-in ceremony.
Senior BJP leaders after having a ‘cordial discussion’ told them that they will be informed soon after being consulted with the other senior leaders. Party insider said the matter was discussed on Wednesday with Modi who has reportedly rejected the idea of inviting them.
Political experts feel that their eagerness to attend the ceremony could be seen as an attempt to become close to the Modi’s government with a hope to return to power in their respective next elections. However, BJP leaders made it very clear that only ‘heads’ will be invited and no one else from these countries will be allowed, sensing that this could jeopardise the interest of both the nations with India.
‘We have called up Zia and Wickremesinghe to express our apology and to convey party’s decision of not allowing them to attend the ceremony due to internal issues. However, they were told to raise their concern anytime during the tenure of Modi’s government,’ a senior BJP leader said.
Wickremesinghe is a Sri Lankan politician (United National Party) and current Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament. He was Prime Minister of Sri Lanka twice from 7 May 1993 to 19 August 1994 and from 9 December 2001 to 6 April 2004.
Hussain Muhammad Ershad, a former Bangladeshi dictator and ex-President of Bangladesh, too called up the BJP leaders requesting him to include his name in the invitee’s list. But he was also denied.