For the first time in five and a half decades Republic Day unlikely to have chief guest
New Delhi, Jan 13: With UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelling his visit to India on Republic Day, this may be for the first time in five and half decades that there would be no chief guest at the parade.
Johnson, who had initially accepted the offer cancelled his visit owing to the new strain of the COVID-19 virus in the United Kingdom.
The last time that the Republic Day did not have a chief guest was in 1966, the Indira Gandhi was sworn in as the prime minister following the death of Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.
The years 1952 and 1953 too did not have a chief guest during the Republic Day parade.
India has decided to go ahead with the Republic Day celebrations without a chief guest. The decision was taken after UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson decided to cancel his visit due to the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The Republic Day this year will be of shorter duration. The marching contingent will be smaller and the cultural performances will be fewer.
The number of spectators too be reduced at Rajpath on January 26. The overall traditional character of the parade would, however, be maintained despite the restrictions. A contingent of the Bangladesh armed forces will take part in the parade in view of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 1971 war of liberation.
The parade will begin from Vijay Chowk. However this year it would culminate at the National Stadium instead of ending at the Red Fort. This means that the parade which normally covers 8.2 kilometres will only 3.3 kilometres this year.
Around 25,000 spectators will be allowed to witness the parade as compared to the average of 1.3 lakh people every year. There would be no permit for elders with Co-morbidities and children below the age of 15.