Barack Obama is not the first American president to be invited for the Republic Day parade. Bill Clinton was invited for Republic Day parade on behalf of then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1994 but he declined as he was not willing to change his state of the union address, former foreign secretary K Srinivasan said.
In an interview to Karan Thapar’s special programme on Obama’s visit aired on television channel Headlines Today, the former foreign secretary said that while the Congress had failed to bring a US president to the Republic Day parade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded. Obama was willing to change his state of the union address and it showed bonhomie between the two leaders, he said.
According to Srinivasan, Clinton was gratified with the invitation but was not willing to change his state of the union address to which he wanted to give top priority.
“The then Prime Minister Narisimha Rao was impressed by President Clinton and asked me to invite him for the Republic Day parade of 1995. Instead of going through normal diplomatic route that was US Embassy in Delhi or Indian Embassy in US, I called up Strobe Talbott, who was deputy secretary of state or deputy foreign minister. He got back within 20 or 36 hours and told me that the President was gratified by the invitation but cannot come because of the state of the union address,” Srinivasan said.