West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said she will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as prime minister on Thursday. Her statement came on a day when two Trinamool Congress West Bengal MLAs and 50 party councillors joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Banerjee said the invitation for the ceremony had arrived earlier on Tuesday and she will be attending it as “constitutional courtesy”. “I have spoken to a couple of other chief ministers and decided to attend it,” she told reporters in Kolkata, according to PTI. “There are certain ceremonial programmes under the Constitution. We try to attend such programmes when we get invitation for swearing-in programmes of the president and the prime minister.”
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress won 22 out of 42 seats in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, while the BJP raised its tally from two seats in 2014 to 18 this year. The saffron party also gained 40.5% vote share.
Modi has invited leaders from the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC, bloc to the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. BIMSTEC is a regional group comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth have also been invited.
In 2014, leaders of all nations from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation were invited to Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. Nawaz Sharif, who was then Pakistan’s prime minister, had attended the event.
Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth also confirmed that he would attend the ceremony. Comparing Modi with Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi, Rajinikanth said the prime minister was a “charismatic leader”. “This victory is a victory for Modi,” Rajinikanth told reporters in Chennai. “He is a charismatic leader. In India, after Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi, Modi is now a charismatic leader.”