Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is likely to be the chief guest at India’s 2020 Republic Day celebrations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to have opted for Bolsonaro from among a list of probable international leaders.
Making a departure from the practice followed by his predecessors, Modi so far has not relied on foreign office mandarins for selecting chief guest for the January 26 celebration. He has been making his own choice as is the prerogative of the political leadership to choose a chief guest.
It is believed that the prime minister was initially keen on inviting US President Donald Trump, but changed his preference since there was no confirmation from the other side.
Normally the invitees are heads of states and the occasion is used to improve and strengthen diplomatic relations with the invited nation. India is keen to expand its ties with South American nations.
Every year during Republic Day, national capital New Delhi sports a festive look as people look forward to an impressive display of military might and cultural wealth.
According to the information available, preparations have already begun to host Bolsonaro. It would be the Brazilian leader’s maiden trip to India as president. He would be the third Brazilian President to be invited for Republic Day celebrations after Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1996 and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2004.
Modi and President Bolsonaro were present at the Future Investment Initiative business forum in Riyadh last week. Brazil too hopes to improve its trade and investment relations with the Asian countries.
In 2015, Modi had invited then US President Barack Obama as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations and in 2016, then French President François Hollande was invited. In 2017, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE graced the occasion. In 2018, there were numerous chief guests – leaders of all the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. In 2019, the guest of honour was South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.