Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Sri Lanka from Thursday comes after a gap of 158 days, the longest between his two foreign trips after he went to Japan in November last year.
Before this, the longest gap was of 102 days between Modi’s visit to Nepal to attend the SAARC summit between November 25-27 in 2014 and then to Seychelles on March 10, 2015.
And, prior to that, there was a gap of 94 days after his unscheduled visit to Pakistan on December 25 last year and then his travel to Saudi Arabia after three months on March 29 this year.
The gap this time around has been attributed to a hectic domestic schedule of the PM due to the assembly elections in 5 states as well as other national issues.
“The PM is the star campaigner of his party. Also, he had to focus on national issues such as demonetisation, rolling out of GST etc,” sources said.
Modi is in Sri Lanka to participate in the celebrations marking the UN Vesak Day, the most important in the Buddhist calendar, which commemorates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away.
The ‘International Day of Vesak’ celebrations, to be held in Colombo from May 12 to 14, will include an International Buddhist Conference in which over 400 delegates from more than 100 countries are expected to participate.
Modi had visited the island country earlier in 2015.
Modi will have a packed schedule of foreign visits from next month till July, starting with the trip to Sri Lanka. He is expected to travel to Russia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Israel, and Spain. PM Modi may also visit the United States, but it has not been finalised yet.
The Prime Minister will travel to St Petersburg in Russia to attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) to be held from June 1-3. Along with that, he is expected to travel to Germany and Spain on bilateral visits, the officials said.
Afterwards, Modi will visit Kazakhstan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet to be held in Astana on June 7-8. Significantly, Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif is also expected to attend the Summit of the SCO, a grouping which includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Prime Minister is then slated to travel to Hamburg in Germany to attend the G-20 Summit scheduled to take place between July 7-8, officials said. He will also go to Israel in July, dates for which are being finalised, sources said.
Modi has made 54 foreign trips during his tenure as the Prime Minister so far. He made 9 trips in 2014, 27 in 2015 and 18 in 2016.
Modi’s foreign trips have been criticised in the past by opposition parties who have accused the BJP leader of neglecting domestic issues.