After a massive victory of the NDA government by securing 353 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, PM Modi is all set to take oath along with 40 Member of Parliament (MP) who will be selected as Cabinet Ministers. A highest ever 8,000 guests, including VVIPs, will be attending the oath-taking ceremony of PM Modi and his council of Ministers that will be held at the forecourt — the stately path between the main gates and the main building in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The swearing-in ceremony will be of about 90 minutes and after that, a dinner will be served to around 40 dignitaries, including Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and the prime minister, leaders of all BIMSTEC countries.
The invitation to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) country leaders shows a shift of foreign diplomacy in the upcoming government under Narendra Modi. The Modi government during its first term shifted its foreign policy to 'neighbourhood-first'. The first step towards it began from the swearing-in of the Modi government in 2014 when the SAARC leaders were invited. The SAARC countries include Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Head of all these nations attended swearing-in of Prime Minister Modi in 2014 including then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.
However, five years later, with the attacks in Pulwama, Uri and Pathankot, it is said that the Modi government will strengthen its relations with the BIMSTEC group, as it is alternative to the trouble-laden SAARC. However, the BIMSTEC organisation has all the SAARC countries except Pakistan and Afghanistan. With inviting BIMSTEC, Narendra Modi-led government sends a clear message about its upcoming foreign diplomacy.
What is BIMSTEC?
BIMSTEC is a regional organization comprising of seven-member state namely lying in the littoral adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal. This sub-regional organisation came into being on June 6, 1997, through the Bangkok Declaration. The BIMSTEC member states—Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan—are among the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal. The foreign policy experts have said that the move to invite BIMSTEC demonstrates the seriousness with which New Delhi believes it should engage with maritime nations for security in the Bay of Bengal region.
Six important sectors have been identified by the BIMSTEC group to centre their focus on. They are trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism, fisheries. In 2019, as Modi takes the oath for his second consecutive term, here is the list of all the BIMSTEC leaders and other international leaders who will attend the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.