Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday left for Bhutan on a two-day visit, his maiden visit abroad after taking over office, The Times of India reports.
During his visit the prime minister will call on Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and also hold talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay.
On Monday, he will address a joint session of the Bhutanese parliament.
Modi will fly into the mountainous country sans the large media contingent which usually accompanies Indian PMs on such visits.
From asking his ministers to go slow on foreign jaunts to choosing Bhutan for his first visit abroad, Modi has shown that he can be unconventional in his approach as PM.
Modi will land in Bhutan in a military aircraft as the tricky airport in the Paro valley doesn't allow large jets, and certainly not PM's Air India One (a Boeing 747-400), to land there.
Modi is accompanied only by an 8-member media delegation comprising journalists from official agencies like PTI, AIR and Doordarshan. In the past, PMs have generally been accompanied by a 34-member media delegation on foreign visits.
And while the smaller plane made it impossible to carry so many journalists, PM always had the option of using another aircraft for flying in more people along with government officials.
In fact, this is what Modi's predecessor Manmohan Singh did when he visited Bhutan in 2008. Journalists flew in a separate plane.
Sources said that the foreign ministry had recommended the names of major publications which usually accompany the PM for such visits. Modi, however, decided to go with only official news agencies. However, it remains to be seen what Modi does for his upcoming visit to Japan for which he will use AI-1 that can accommodate over 30 journalists.
Modi is paying a "goodwill" visit to Bhutan after he was invited to visit the country by its prime minister Tshering Tobgay.
Modi will be accompanied by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, NSA Ajit Doval and foreign secretary Sujatha Singh. Apart from focusing on hydropower projects, the mainstay of bilateral cooperation, the government has also identified education, media and tourism as areas in which the 2 countries could work together.