India has invited UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations in January 2021 and a decision on this is awaited from London, according to diplomatic sources.

The invite was extended on November 27 during a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Johnson, a diplomatic source said on December 2. Johnson, on his part, invited PM Modi to the G-7 summit in the UK next year. However, there was no confirmation from the British High Commission on this with officials saying that Johnson was keen to visit India as soon as possible.

New Delhi is tight-lipped on the decision, but diplomats say that it is a well-thought-out strategy by PM Modi to invite his UK counterpart as a hard Brexit looms on the horizon and London wonders about its special relationship with Washington under the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In a November 27 tweet, PM Modi said that he had an excellent discussion with his friend, Johnson, on an ambitious roadmap for India-UK ties in the next decade.

 “We agreed to work towards a quantum leap in our cooperation in all areas — trade and investments, defence and security, climate change and fighting Covid-19,” PM Modi wrote in the tweet.

There was no response from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to questions on Boris’ visit. There has been top level visit since US President Donald Trump’s visit in February 2020 due to COVID-19. Also, with the number of COVID-19 cases in India crossing 9.5 million, there is still no clarity on the Republic Day celebrations in 2021.