A day ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit, the US embassy indicated that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Deputy Manish Sisodia were dropped from an event at a Delhi government-run school event to be attended by the US First Lady as that they did not wish to politicise the event.
“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 that the focus is on education, the school, and the students,” said a US Embassy spokesperson.
Mr Sisodia later issued a statement, saying he respects the concerns expressed by the US.
“Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and I would have loved to personally receive the First Lady to the Delhi Government school and brief her about the concept of Happiness Classes and the positive impact that it has had on students, during her visit to the classrooms. However, certain concerns were expressed by the US embassy regarding CM and Deputy CM accompanying first lady during the school visit. We respect the same,” he said.
The US First Lady Melania Trump was expected to watch a “happiness class” at a Delhi government school during their two-day visit that begins tomorrow.
AAP sources had said the names of Mr Kejriwal and Mr Sisodia were dropped from the event by the Central government.
Mr Sisodia had handled the education portfolio and will continue to do so in the new term. It was he who had introduced the “happiness curriculum” two years ago as an attempt to reduce stress among schoolchildren. It involves 40 minutes of meditation, relaxing and even outdoor activities.
The exclusion had rankled for the party, which prides itself on work in the education sector — the makeover of Delhi schools. Mr Kejriwal has repeatedly spoken of the results the students from government schools have been achieving.
AAP sees its work in the education and health sector as one of the reasons for its huge mandate in Delhi. AAP had won 62 of Delhi’s 70 assembly seats. The BJP won 8, a marginal improvement over his score of three in 2015.
The inclusion of a government school in the high-profile visit is interesting, given the ugly row ahead during the assembly election campaign, over the BJP posting videos that they said “exposed” the poor state of schools managed by the Kejriwal government.
The Trumps will begin their two-day visit on Monday in Ahmedabad in PM Modi’s home state Gujarat. They will fly down to Delhi later that night.