Prime minister designate Narendra Modi drew applause from all quarters on Wednesday when his party announced that Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif is among the list of foreign dignitaries invited for Modi's swearing-in on May 26.
Modi's detractors like J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah saluted him for making the first move. "Excellent move by Narendra Modi to invite Saarc leaders, specially Pak PM for his swearing-in. Hope this is the beginning of sustained talk,'' tweeted Abdullah.
Modi was hailed for his foresight in inviting Sharif and other heads of all Saarc countries (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).
The ministry of external affairs (MEA) has sent invitations to Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, Nepal PM Sushil Koirala, Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai among others.
The swearing-in ceremony has been kept in the open courtyard as 3,000 guests are expected. Normally, swearing-ins happen at the Durbar Hall in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"Foreign secretary Sujatha Singh has written to Saarc leaders inviting them to attend the swearing-in ceremony on May 26," a ministry spokesperson said. Invitations were sent on Wednesday. "We are waiting for a formal response... Karzai and Rajapaksa have indicated they might attend the ceremony."
Other prominent "probable"guests in Modi's list are RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and top functionaries Suresh Soni and Suresh Bhaiyaji Joshi.
Asked if Modi's mother will attend the swearing-in, senior BJP leaders said it is entirely up to Modi. "We have no say in Modi's family matters... We too will come to know of it in the end," a leader said.
The BJP is thinking of inviting a galaxy of corporate biggies. Some leaders, however, feel it might send out a wrong signal; but most party leaders say they should be invited. The list is still to be finalised and made public.
Next in the list are all chief ministers, including Mamata Banerjee, J Jayalalitha, Prithviraj Chauhan, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Omar Abdullah, Tarun Gogoi, new Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi and Kerela CM Oomen Chandy. It is not clear if former Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad have been invited.
To make the swearing-in ceremony a grand function and to give party leaders an opportunity to be part of it, all national executive committee members and leaders from the party's various wings have been invited. "All BJP state presidents too have been invited," a party leader said.