Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief guest at the Bastille Day or French national day celebrations in Paris in July this year
New Delhi: French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, making him the fifth French leader to be accorded the honour, people familiar with the development said on Friday.
The development comes after the US was unable to accept India’s invitation for President Joe Biden to be the chief guest for the Republic Day. This will also be the sixth time that a French head of state will attend the celebrations as chief guest since 1976.
The Indian side was put in the uncomfortable position of having to look for a world leader to be the chief guest for the Republic Day with a little more than six weeks to go for the event after the US didn’t take up the invitation, reportedly due to Biden’s focus on domestic politics, including the annual state of the union address and his re-election bid in 2024.
There was speculation in diplomatic circles about the Indian side reaching out to other world leaders in recent days, with the names of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the heads of state of some West Asian countries doing the rounds.
There was no word from Indian officials regarding Macron’s presence at the Republic Day celebrations, though the people cited above said the French president is expected to attend the event and that a formal announcement was expected soon.
The French presidents who were guests at the Republic Day celebrations were Jacques Chirac (1976 and 1998), Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1980), Nicolas Sarkozy (2008) and François Hollande (2016). Macron’s presence at next year’s event will also make France the country whose leaders have been chief guest at the event the maximum number of times. Until now, France and the UK were tied with five invitations each.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief guest at the Bastille Day or French national day celebrations in Paris in July this year, when an Indian tri-services contingent also participated in the parade.