CM’s absence from October 2 events appalling, unacceptable: L-G

Saxena accuses Kejriwal, his Ministers of showing ‘utter disregard’ towards commemoration of Gandhi and Shastri birth anniversaries; AAP says L-G wrote letter on instructions of a ‘livid’ Prime Minister

October 04, 2022 01:08 am | Updated 01:00 pm IST - New Delhi

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat on Sunday.  The L-G said Mr. Sisodia was “perfunctorily present” there for a few minutes and did not stay till the programme concluded.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat on Sunday.  The L-G said Mr. Sisodia was “perfunctorily present” there for a few minutes and did not stay till the programme concluded. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

In yet another administrative showdown, Lieutenant-Governor V. K. Saxena on Monday wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal terming his absence from Raj Ghat and Vijay Ghat for the commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri’s birth anniversaries “unacceptable and appalling”.

In response, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleged that the L-G had written the letter on the instructions of a “livid” Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Neither the Chief Minister nor any of his other Cabinet colleagues, Mr. Saxena wrote, were present at Raj Ghat or Vijay Ghat on October 2 when dignitaries, including President Droupadi Murmu, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Prime Minister Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and representatives of foreign missions in India, were paying homage to the two great leaders.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the L-G added, was “perfunctorily present there for a few minutes but did not deem the occasion fit enough to stay the course” till the programme concluded.

“It is with a deep sense of pain, regret and disappointment that I draw your attention towards the utter disregard displayed by you and the government headed by you towards the commemoration of Gandhi Jayanti and the jayanti of Shastriji yesterday [Sunday],” the L-G wrote.

“What makes this absence all the more unacceptable and appalling is the fact that the President and the Vice-President were duly invited to the programme after approval from the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister,” the L-G added.

In accepting the invite from the Delhi government, Mr. Saxena pointed out, the President’s Secretariat had “clearly apprised” the Chief Minister that he was expected not only to be present at the programme but to also receive the President at Vijay Ghat.

CM’s responsibility

Organising the homage function at Vijay Ghat, the samadhi of Mr. Shastri, is officially under the charge and responsibility of the Delhi government; the invitation cards for the programmme, the L-G said, were issued in the name of the Delhi Chief Minister.

“However, you were absent from the programme at Vijay Ghat and the Deputy Chief Minister left the venue without waiting for the President to arrive,” Mr. Saxena wrote.

“This is not only highly improper but prima facie amounts to deliberate breach of protocol, indicative of disrespect and insult to the President of India -- the highest constitutional authority of the republic,” the L-G wrote, adding that the commemoration of “the greatest sons of Mother India” went beyond the “issuing of symbolic advertisements” in newspapers that the Delhi government “very promptly did”.

The L-G also stated that he was “shocked” at seeing garbage allegedly strewn outside the entrance of the venues and the “compromised” basic cleanliness in the vicinity.

‘Kejriwal was in Gujarat’

The ruling party retorted saying the Chief Minister had always attended Gandhi Jayanti and Lal Bahadur Shastri Jayanti events over the last several years; on Sunday, he was in Gujarat and hence could not attend the programme.

“It is important to understand the reason for the L-G’s letter. The Chief Minister addressed a very massive rally in a tribal area of Gujarat against empty chairs in the Prime Minister’s programme in Ahmedabad just two days ago,” AAP alleged.

“The Prime Minister is livid. This letter has been written by the L-G on the PM’s instructions,” the party added.

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