U.S. President Donald Trump may not be traveling to India in January for the Republic Day Parade, where he has been invited as the Guest of Honour. Sources who wish to remain anonymous have revealed to the media that the White House has “conveyed its regrets” to the Modi government. An official decision has been sent to the Ministry of External Affairs.
January is also the time when the president is expected to give his State of the Union (SOTU) address in a Joint Session of the United States Congress. These sessions are typically held either to listen to the address or grant audience to heads of state; they have also been held after space missions, to swear in a Vice President, on anniversaries or to hold memorial services for deceased presidents and former presidents.
Trump’s address in January 2019 will be his second in office. His first one, in 2018, was the 95th ever in-person SOTU Address to Congress.
Former President Barack Obama faced a similar situation in 2015, but was able to negotiate forward the Congressional Joint Session to January 20, enabling him to make the trip to India for that year’s Republic Day Parade. But an additional challenge faced Trump, which is why the invite is likely to have been declined: Speaker Paul Ryan has resigned, so Trump will only be able to negotiate a different date starting in December, after the representatives exit the November 6 mid-term elections and a new Speaker is appointed.
According to a national paper, The Hindu, the Indian government has begun “exploring several other options for the event.”