India is unlikely to have any Republic Day chief guest this year after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tuesday cited the Covid situation to drop out at the last moment, ThePrint has learnt.
If it happens, this will be the first time since 1966 that India will not have any head of state or government as chief guest for its Republic Day parade, top sources told ThePrint, requesting anonymity.
An elaborate event, the Republic Day parade showcases India’s military might as well as rich cultural heritage.
India had been “looking forward” to Johnson’s visit despite the detection of a new mutant coronavirus strain in the UK that has also made its way into India.
In the wake of the UK PM cancelling his visit, the sources said, India has approached the leaders of countries in its immediate neighbourhood, including Sri Lanka and Bhutan. However, on account of lockdown measures and other coronavirus-related issues, it could be difficult for any of the dignitaries to travel at this time, the sources said.
Defence sources said it was “too early” to say whether India will or will not have a guest for this year’s parade.