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Modi's inauguration invitations draw criticism

The invitation list to Indian prime minister-elect Narendra Modi's oath-taking ceremony has drawn criticism, with some experts feeling that the presence of foreign dignitaries at the usually domestic event could overshadow its political significance for India.

NEW DELHI: Invitations have gone out for the oath-taking ceremony of India's incoming prime minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet on the 26th of May.

In a bold diplomatic move to improve strained ties, Modi has invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to the event.

The ceremony's invitation list has drawn appreciation as well as criticism.

Modi is wasting no time to be on the diplomatic offensive with his neighbours.

The prime minister-elect has invited the leaders of neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal as well as Pakistan to his swearing-in ceremony held next Monday.

His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to dispel fears that India would pursue a tough foreign policy under Modi's leadership.

"This peaceful transformation of power in the world's largest democracy is a lead-in opportunity for India to showcase the strength of its democracy to the world," said Arun Jaitley, a BJP leader.

While Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was one of the first to extend his congratulations when the BJP won the election, he is aware of the domestic apprehension over Modi's anti-Pakistan statements during the election campaign.

"When in opposition, BJP had condemned Manmohan Singh's relations with Pakistan during his rule. It is a good thing that, now when in government, they want to change their policy,” said Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

Manish Tiwari, a Congress party spokesperson, said: "It is completely contrary to their position for the past ten years. The BJP should introspect."

Usually a domestic event, many experts feel that the presence of foreign dignitaries at the swearing-in ceremony could overshadow the political significance for India.

However, a handshake between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan could send positive signals to the region and the world.

"In the event that Mr Nawaz Sharif from Pakistan is also able to come, I think the fallout will be very positive," said C Uday Bhaskar, a security expert.

While some members of the BJP are unsure whether the oath-taking ceremony should have been turned into a major diplomatic event, others feel that Modi should be appreciated for not wasting any time in giving a new impetus to relations with neighbouring countries. 

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