Many media houses reported that President of the Republic of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi will be the chief guest of India's Republic Day parade, to be held on January 26, 2021. Times Now on January 11, 2021, reported that after United Kingdom's Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his visit to India citing the rise of new coronavirus strain in the UK, Suriname's President would be Republic Day's chief guest. The Times Now sourced the information to News 18. The archives of both the news links are here and here.
The claim is also viral on Twitter.
President of the Republic of Suriname Chandrikapersad Santokhi will be the Chief Guest of this year's Republic Day.
On January 14, 2021, Hindustan Times reported that this year's Republic Day parade would be a low key affair due to coronavirus pandemic. According to the report, there will be no foreign head of state or government as the chief guest at this year's Republic Day celebrations. Hindustan Times quoted a government official, who told, "One official said the decision was taken on account of multiple reasons. We did not want to put any foreign dignitary in an awkward situation."
According to India TV, the following changes are done in the Republic Day Parade 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic:
There will be a cap on the number of guests allowed to attend the Republic Day parade. Only 25,000 people will be allowed to watch the parade on Rajpath, unlike other years where over 1,00,000 people came for the event. Only 4,000 people from the general public will be allowed, while the rest 21,000 will be the VVIPs and VIPs. This year there will be no foreign guest. Only the people with age between 15 years and 65 years will be allowed.
Only 400 participants will be allowed in comparison to 600 people that were allowed last year.
The marching squads will have only 96 participants, unlike 144 during ordinary times.
We also found that the Ministry of External Affairs had put the details of the cancellation done by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the Republic Day parade. But no such announcements were made for the visit of Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
Ministry of External Affairs on January 14 said that there would be no foreign head of state or government. Ministry of External Affairs said, "Due to global COVID-19 situation, it was decided not to have a foreign head of state or head of government as R-Day chief guest."
We found out that Chandrikapersad Santokhi was the chief guest of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, 2021, an event of the Ministry of External Affairs that provides an important platform to engage and connect with the overseas Indians. Suriname Chandrikapersad Santokhi delivered a keynote address at the convention which was held on January 9, 2021.
This is for the fourth time that India will have no foreign chief guest during Republic Day. In 1952, 1953 and 1966, there was no foreign chief guest present at the Republic Day parade.
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