Kejriwal, Gopal Rai skip event, AAP says PMO ‘politicised’ programme

The Chief Minister was scheduled to take part in a plantation drive in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday.

The Chief Minister was scheduled to take part in a plantation drive in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday. | Photo Credit: File Photo

Taking strong objection to banners of Prime Minister Narendra Modi being placed in the backdrop of a Delhi government event, AAP on Sunday accused the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of turning a scheduled programme into a political event.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Environment Minister Gopal Rai were scheduled to take part in a drive, along with Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena, to plant one lakh saplings as part of the Van Mahotsav programme at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday. However, both the Ministers skipped the event.

The BJP responded by criticising Mr. Kejriwal for not attending the event. The BJP leaders said that the Delhi CM skipped the event only to avoid sharing the stage with the L-G, who had recommended a CBI probe into the Delhi government’s excise policy last week.

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“The Prime Minister sent the Delhi police to get his hoardings installed at the Delhi government programme. We condemn the conversion of the plantation drive into a political event on the instructions of the PMO. Our Chief Minister and Environment Minister decided not to participate in such a political event,” said AAP’s chief spokesperson and MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj said.

‘PM fears Kejriwal’

He added, “The arrest of [Delhi Cabinet Minister] Satyendar Jain in a fake case, denying permission to Mr. Kejriwal to visit Singapore and tasking investigation agencies to send Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to jail… all this makes it crystal clear that the Prime Minister fears Mr. Kejriwal.”

Senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh also said viewed the incident in light of the Delhi CM’s ‘growing popularity’.

“The popularity of Mr. Kejriwal has crossed the borders of Delhi and he is now a name known throughout the country. The Prime Minister is trying to impede our progress by putting obstacles, taking immoral actions and implicating our leaders in false cases. We should collectively think about how a State government can function if the country’s Prime Minister has come out against it all guns blazing,” said Mr. Singh.

Also Read | AAP-BJP political equation back to square one

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor described AAP’s claim of interference by the Delhi police in Sunday’s programme as a ‘political gimmick’.

“The truth is that ever since the L-G has recommended a CBI inquiry into the excise policy, the Delhi government functionaries and AAP leaders are avoiding sharing stage with the Mr. Saxena,” said Mr. Kapoor.

‘CM avoiding L-G’

The BJP spokesperson added, “Last week, the CM did not join the weekly coordination meeting with the L-G citing ill-health though he was attending other meetings on the same day. Today again, to avoid sharing the stage with the L-G, Mr. Kejriwal, through his party leaders, has served everyone a cooked-up story,” Mr. Kapoor said.

Land belongs to the Centre

Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said the condition laid out by the Chief Minister — that he would attend the program only after the poster of the Prime Minister was removed — showed his “narrow-mindedness and petty behaviour”.

“The Chief Minister should know that the land on which Asola Bhatti Mines is located belongs to the Central government. Political differences have their place but the actions by Mr. Kejriwal are not expected of any CM,” Mr. Bidhuri added.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2022 10:19:13 pm |