New Delhi, May 30 : After the SAARC outreach five years ago when Narendra Modi took oath of office for the first time as India’s Prime Minister, the focus during the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Modi for the second term in office was on ``Neigbbourhood First.’’
As Mr Modi along with his ministerial colleagues took oath of office and secrecy in the sprawling forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan, the occasion was graced by leaders from the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping.
In 2014, SAARC leaders had also included Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in the second edition of his ministry’s swearing in ceremony leaders from BIMSTEC member countries marked their presence. Since Pakistan is not a member of BIMSTEC grouping, it was not invited, it was officially stated.
However, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had called Mr Modi to congratulate him on massive victory. Mr Modi thanked Pakistani Prime Minister for his telephone call and greetings. Recalling his initiatives in line with his government’s ``Neighbourhood First’’ policy, Prime Minister Modi referred to his earlier suggestion to his Pakistani counterpart to fight poverty jointly. He stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region.
This time around leaders from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan were present in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan apart from leaders from the Kyrgz Republic and Mauritius.
The Kyrgyz Republic is currently Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and its President Soovonay Jeenbekov represented his country at the ceremony while the Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth who was the Chief Guest at this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was also present. Both the countries are not part of BIMSTEC grouping.
BIMSTEC leaders present at Rashtrapati Bhawan were Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, and Myanmar President U Win Myint. Thailand has sent its special envoy Grisada Boonrach Bangladesh is being represented by its Head of State instead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as she is travelling to Japan. Sheikh Hasina had also missed Mr Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2014. (UNI)