New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: For the first time in 55 years, India will not have a foreign dignity as a chief guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26 due to the global COVID-19 situation, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Thursday. 

"Due to the global COVID-19 situation, it has been decided that this year there will not be any foreign head of state or government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event," said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, as reported by ANI. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier publicly accepted India's invitation for the parade, though he cancelled his visit due to the growing crisis created by the new variant of coronavirus. Johnson, however, has indicated that he would pay a visit to India during the first half of this year and before the G7 summit presided over by the UK, planned for later this year. 

“In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. “The Prime Minister said that he hopes to be able to visit India in the first half of 2021, and ahead of the UK’s G7 Summit that Prime Minister Modi is due to attend as a guest.”

The last time India did not have a foreign dignitity as a chief guest at the parade was in 1966. That event had taken place just two days after Indira Gandhi was sworn in as the country's Prime Minister following Lal Bahadur Shastri's demise. 

Posted By: Lakshay Raja