Choosing R-Day chief guest: Behind the warm welcome, a cold strategy


1992: President Mario Soares of Portugal — In 1992, Portugal was celebrating the 500 years of Vasco da Gama's victory over French pirate ships near its coasts and had invited India to become a part of it. New Delhi had initially agreed but later realised that it could be seen as eulogizing the man who laid the ground for Portuguese rule in India. New Delhi, therefore, politely declined and instead invited the Portuguese President as chief guest.

1991: President Moumoon Abdul Gayoom of Maldives — This invite was to honour a long-time friend of the country in a neighbouring country which is strategically extremely important for India.

1990: Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth of Mauritius — Jugnauth was a PIO, originally from Bihar and spoke fluent Bhojpuri. The invitation was a reflection of changing politics.

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