Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia will not be present during US First Lady Melania Trump’s scheduled visit to a ‘happiness class’ at a Delhi government school on February 25, after the US embassy conveyed to the Delhi government that it does not want the event to “turn political”, it is learnt.
Officials in the Delhi government claimed that the embassy had “initially agreed” to the CM and his deputy accompanying Melania, but conveyed on Thursday that they had changed their mind.
“While the US embassy had no objection to the presence of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, we appreciate their recognition that this is not a political event and that it is best to ensure the focus is on education, the school, and the students.” a US Embassy spokesperson in New Delhi said.
While Kejriwal and Sisodia did not react personally, the Aam Aadmi Party said the episode underlined the “pettiness” of the Union government.
Melania is scheduled to spend about an hour in a happiness curriculum class, the flagship initiative of the Delhi government, which aims to help children relieve stress, meditate, and discuss things that are troubling them.
While inspecting one such class at an East Delhi school around 10.15 am on Saturday, Sisodia told reporters, “We got a request, and we had said that if she (Melania Trump) wants to come she is welcome. Facilities have also been checked in some schools for her, but I won’t comment on which schools (she might visit) and what preparations are being made because of security reasons. All of this will be done under the central government and the Ministry of External Affairs.”
However, within an hour, the issue took a controversial turn, with Delhi government officials claiming that Kejriwal and Sisodia had been left out of the list of those invited to accompany Melania.
AAP national executive member Preeti Sharma Menon tweeted: “There is no match for the pettiness of Narendra Modi. You may not invite Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia but their works speak for them.”
A Sisodia aide told The Sunday Express that the embassy had reached out to the government after the elections, in which the AAP returned to power with 62 out of 70 seats. “We spoke multiple times. The Delhi government told the US government officials that it would like to extend the level of highest courtesy to the First Lady, as part of which the CM and Deputy CM will receive her at the school. Initially, they said yes,” the aide claimed.
“However, later they got back saying this would make the event political in nature. We expressed our disagreement, but since they remained adamant, we said fine, go ahead. The event is on, but no senior functionary of the government will be present there. The principal of the school will officiate during the event,” the official said.
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