"This is essentially an attempt to participate in a joyful celebration of democracy and the invite should be seen in that context," BJP Spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
    
She said inviting SAARC countries is a responsible gesture for creating goodwill on the occasion when a newly-elected Prime Minister is being sworn in.
       
"We would certainly like to have our neighbours participate in this happy occasion," she said.
     
On being asked about objections raised by certain NDA allies like MDMK on inviting Rajapaksa, she said, "I am sure they will understand the reason behind this invite."
    
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo said that the ‘ill-advised’ move of inviting Rajapaksa could have been avoided as it amounted to ‘rubbing salt into the wounds of the already deeply injured Tamil psyche.’
    
DMK also said Modi could have ‘avoided’ inviting the Sri Lankan President for his swearing-in ceremony and should ‘understand the feelings’ of people of Tamil Nadu.
    
Congress, on the other hand, took a jibe at BJP over the invitation to Nawaz Sharif, reminding the party of its earlier remarks that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand.
    
"Throughout the election campaign, you saw a lot of anti-Pakistan rhetoric which was articulated by the BJP in a language which was extremely vociferous to say the least. And now you have this invitation to Prime Minister of Pakistan.
    
"So, therefore, it is for BJP to introspect as to whether terror and invitations can go hand in hand," Congress leader Manish Tewari told reporters in the national capital.     

Another BJP spokesperson Captain Abhimanyu said that sending invites to SAARC leaders was a positive step taken by the new government.
    
Party spokesman Prakash Javadekar said that Modi is only following in the footsteps of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in extending invites to leaders of India's neighbours.
    
India has extended an invitation to all heads of states of South Asian countries, including Pakistan Prime Minister, to Modi's oath-taking ceremony slated for May 26 in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan.

(Agencies)

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