With the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) not granting the mandatory travel clearance, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday was forced to call off his trip at the last minute to Copenhagen for the C40 World Mayors Summit. Kejriwal was scheduled to fly at 2 pm and address the summit Wednesday on Delhi’s fight against pollution.
The Delhi government did not issue an official statement but Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha MP of the ruling AAP, lashed out at what he called the BJP-led Centre’s “hostility”.
“This is unfortunate and beyond my understanding. Why is (Narendra) Modi’s government working with such hostility towards us? He (Kejriwal) wasn’t going on a vacation but to hold discussions with mayors of 100 cities of Asia and present a better picture of our country on efforts to abate pollution. We applied a month ago but couldn’t get clearance,” he said.
The MEA refused to comment on the issue beyond what it had said last Friday, but sources in the government pointed out that the conference is a gathering of mayors.
Responding to questions Friday, MEA’s official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said: “It is very simple that if there is an event taking place abroad where a certain individual is invited and you have representation from other countries which is at a very lower level, in that case, we do advise the person concerned that this event is not fit to be attended by a minister or this does not warrant the presence of a minister. So this is the process that is involved.”
Kumar had said the “overall objective is to ensure the prestige of the country is not compromised”.
Apart from speaking on pollution, Kejriwal was to address a joint press conference in Copenhagen to launch ‘Clean
Air Cities Declaration’ with the mayors of Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Portland, Jakarta and Barcelona.
Sources in the Delhi government said the CM’s office “waited till the last minute for clearance and checked with the MEA several times” but did not get a response.