Much like his high-voltage election campaign, Narendra Modi’s swearing in as India’s 15th Prime Minister this evening is set to be a heavyweight affair. The vast lawns of Rashtrapati Bhawan, the president’s palace, will host some 4,000 people, and at dinner afterwards, the kitchen will serve dishes from India’s many regions.
Here’s a list of who will be in attendance and who will be conspicuous by their absence.
- Heads of governments of all SAARC nations: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. The Prime Minister of Mauritius, which is not a SAARC nation, has also been invited. All eyes will be on Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, who is making his first trip to India since being elected last year. Of particular interest to those assembled will be whether Sharif and Shivsena chief Uddhav Thackeray will come face to face; Shivsena is the largest constituent of the National Democratic Alliance after the Bharatiya Janata Party. In a statement this weekend, Thackeray warned that Modi might have to take drastic measures if Pakistan didn’t amend its ways.
- Diplomats, members of the outgoing council of ministers and Parliamentarians from both houses. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi have confirmed their attendance.
- The next generation of leaders from the south Asian countries. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be accompanied by eldest son Hussain Nawaz, Mahinda Rajapaksa is coming with son Namal Rajapaksa, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom is bringing his niece Dunya Maumoon, and Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is bringing his niece Sujata Koirala and nephew Shashank Koirala, according to news reports.
- A few corporate leaders: Reliance ADA Group’s Anil Ambani, Bharti Group’s Sunil Mittal, Essar’s Prashant Ruia, Adani Group’s Gautam Adani, Hero Motors’ Pawan Munjal and L&T’s AM Naik are expected to attend.
- Actors Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Rekha, singer Lata Mangeshkar and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Those who won’t be there
- Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa is unlikely to attend, to protest the invitation extended to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is accused of war crimes against Sri Lankan Tamils during that country’s long civil war. South Indian actor Rajinikanth, who was invited for the ceremony, is giving it a miss on the same grounds.
- Narendra Modi’s mother, who is unwell. Modi’s brothers say they have not received invites and will watch the ceremony on TV.