New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday suggested that the government should cancel Republic Day festivities as it does not have a chief guest since United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his visit to India, and it would be irresponsible for the crowds to cheer the parade during the pandemic.
"Now that Boris Johnson's visit to India this month has been cancelled due to the #COVIDSecondWave, and we don't have a Chief Guest on #RepublicDay, why not go one step further and cancel the festivities altogether? Getting crowds to cheer the parade as usual would be irresponsible," Tharoor tweeted.
Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi slammed Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for suggesting that Republic day celebrations should be cancelled. The minister termed Tharoor's remark "utterly irresponsible".
"It is the most irresponsible statement by Shashi Tharoor, let Congress reply on it. Republic Day is the most inspiring day. Unfortunate that he has tweeted this. Shashi Tharoor pokes his nose in every issue," Joshi said.
He informed that all the necessary precautions will be taken keeping the pandemic situation in mind and that the defence ministry is working on logistics to have safe festivities on Republic Day.
Earlier in the day, the UK prime minister cancelled his planned trip to India to be the chief guest for Republic Day celebrations, stating that it was important for him to remain in the United Kingdom to focus on the domestic response to COVID-19 in the wake of speed at which new coronavirus variant was spreading.
The government is likely to scale down the number of visitors at the Republic Day parade 2021 to avoid overcrowding and ensure social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak and concerns over the new virus strains.
"Due to COVID-19, the number of visitors to witness the Republic Day parade 2021 would be curtailed as seating arrangements are being made keeping in mind social distancing norms," government sources said.