Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal said that Madison Square Garden congregation is not a sign of good foreign policy as Prime Ministers should not go abroad for “entertainment value” but hardcore diplomacy.
Kejriwal addressed about 200 students and faculty at Columbia University at a closed-door event organised by its School of International and Public Affairs during his whirlwind trip to the city on Sunday.
Columbia students who attended the session with the former Delhi chief minister said there was a mixed reaction.
Some pinned their hope on him and his party while others voiced their concerns over his resignation from the post of chief minister even after winning the elections.
A report in digital news outlet Quartz quoted 46-year-old Kejriwal criticising Modi over his foreign policy, saying politicians should go abroad for substantive policy.
“Large number of people turning up at Madison Square Garden is not foreign policy; it was an event. Our prime minister doesn’t go there for entertainment value…Hardcore diplomacy needs to be discussed,” the Quartz report quoted Kejriwal as saying.
“In Japan, nuclear issue wasn’t even touched upon. It was the work of the PR company of our prime minister and the PR company of the Japanese prime minister,” he said.
Kejriwal was referring to Modi’s address to thousands of Indian-Americans at Madison Square Garden during his visit to the US in September.
Columbia student Casey Tolan tweeted that Kejriwal told students that Modi’s Japan visit was not successful and politicians should not go abroad “for rock star evenings” but for substantive policy.
On the issue of black money, Quartz report quoted Kejriwal as saying that assurances by the Modi government to bring back black money turned out to be “a false election promise”.
“It was just not doable”, he said, “and Modi has taken not even a single step to bring money back”.
He added that the government has not made the black money lists public, since “it has names of some who have funded the party,” the Quartz report said.
After the Columbia lecture, Clinical psychology student Shristhi had said that Kejriwal assured the students that he is back and “hopeful” for the upcoming elections and said there is a buzz in Delhi for him to be back in power.
Students said Kejriwal spoke to them about his decision to quit as Chief Minister and his plans going forward for a corruption-free India.