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New Delhi: For the second consecutive year, the Republic Day parade will have no foreign chief guest due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While no official announcement of a foreign guest was ever made, preparations had been underway to bring in the leaders of five Central Asian countries as chief guests to witness the main Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath.
During the India-Central Asia ministerial summit last month, the Turkmenistan deputy prime minister Rashid Meredov had even stated that there would be a summit with India in January, indicating a visit by the Turkmen president to India.
But with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic still washing over India, sources stated that there would be no foreign dignitaries at the main podium.
The India-Central Asia leaders’ summit is likely to be held in virtual mode.
There has, however, not been any public statement from the Indian government, even with just eight days left for Republic Day.
For the 2021 Republic Day parade, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was invited to be the chief guest. The announcement of his invitation was made in December 2020 during the visit of the British foreign secretary. But, it was cancelled in the first week of January, when COVID-19 cases in the UK were shooting up.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro remains the last foreign guest to witness India’s Republic Day parade at Rajpath, in 2020.