German President Joachim Gauck is set to meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on February 6, in what would be the Aam Aadmi Party chief’s first meeting with an international visitor.
According to sources, the meeting, fixed for 8.45 pm on Thursday, will be held at German ambassador Michael Steiner’s residence in Chanakyapuri.
Gauck has a strong political activist background, being at the forefront of the opposition in the erstwhile East Germany. He was among the initiators of the church and popular resistance to the communist regime in East Germany and led the weekly prayers for peace, which gave rise to the protest demonstrations.
Later, he served as federal commissioner for the Stasi Archives and earned recognition for exposing the Stasi’s crimes.
Sensing Gauck’s inclination to meet with Kejriwal — who also had an activist background — German ambassador Michael Steiner had approached the chief minister’s office for a meeting. However, the proposal was declined.
During ‘At Home’ by President Pranab Mukherjee on January 26, Steiner approached Kejriwal and told him about the request being turned down by the CMO.
At the time, Kejriwal promised to reschedule some of his appointments and work out the possibility of calling on the visiting President. Sources said the meeting was scheduled after this impromptu meeting between the envoy and the CM.
Asked if Gauck will be meeting Kejriwal, Steiner on Monday said, “I read the reports, as did everybody, in quality press in India. I do not want to comment further. We are talking about an elected Chief Minister who happens to be the Chief Minister of Delhi.”
Asked if this meant that Guack and Kejriwal were not meeting, Steiner said, “I did not say that,” and declined to comment further.
Steiner has been a vocal and politically active ambassador in the capital, and had taken the lead for hosting the lunch for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi last year, ending European Union’s 10-year boycott.
He has also opposed the death sentence of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and has made pleas to the Indian government on commuting his punishment.
The German President, too, may reiterate his country’s position against death penalty when he meets Kejriwal.
During the visit to the capital, Gauck will also meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, among others.