IANS

There will be no chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year also as the plan to host state heads of five Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- seems to have been cancelled due to the Covid situation in India as well as in the respective nations. Though the Ministry of External Affairs is yet to confirm this officially.

If the guests arrive, then this would be the second time when India hosts a group of state heads as the chief guests on the Republic Day. In 2018, state heads of ASEAN countries graced the occasion with their presence. Apart from Kazakhstan, none of these countries' state heads had been invited as the chief guests on the Republic Day. In 2009, Kazakhstan's then president Nursultan Nazarbayev was the Chief Guest.

As per sources, due to the corona situation, the Government of India is in no mood to take any risk to invite any foreign guest, so the plan seems to have been cancelled. Last year, British Prime minister Boris Johnson was invited for the same, but later cancelled due to rising corona cases in the UK.

In the past, there have been occasions when the Republic Day ceremony was celebrated without any foreign guest. In 1966, there was no foreign chief guest in the Republic Day parade ceremony as the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had passed away in Tashkent in January, and Indira Gandhi took oath as Prime Minister on January 24.

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