Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal may ultimately not get permission to travel to Singapore to attend the World Cities Summit and the AAP national convener may not be able to attend the conference “at all”, sources told News18 on Thursday.
The summit, a conference for mayors, is scheduled for August 2 to 3 and High Commissioner of Singapore Simon Wong had extended an invitation to Kejriwal last month.
Earlier this month, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had rejected the AAP government’s request for Kejriwal’s travel to Singapore, saying his attendance at the mayors’ conference will set a “bad precedent”. The L-G reportedly advised Kejriwal not to attend the summit in Singapore since it is a conference of mayors and “won’t be befitting for a chief minister to attend it”.
The Delhi CM had then written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking permission to attend the summit.
The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on July 21 that it had received a request for political clearance for Kejriwal’s visit to Singapore. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said the “entry” for the clearance was made on the ministry’s dedicated online portal that receives such requests.
Sources told News18, however, that the clearance is unlikely to come through “on the basis of denial of political clearance and all ports already intimated”.
In a press conference last week, the AAP had accused the BJP-led central government of indulging in “petty politics”. AAP legislators Atishi and Durgesh Pathak claimed the L-G did not approve Kejriwal’s foreign visit because the prime minister was “scared” of his growing popularity.
“He (Modi) is sacred because Kejriwal is emerging as a leader who can challenge him. He feels that Kejriwal will become a much bigger leader if he visits Singapore and gets appreciation for his government’s work done in Delhi… It’s because the BJP-led Centre and its L-G could not digest that leader from across the world wants to listen to Kejriwal,” Aatishi had said.
According to sources, however, this could well be a political stunt by the AAP-led Delhi government.
Sources said Kejriwal’s Singapore invitation was withdrawn a day before he applied to the MEA for approval. The World Cities Summit invitation to Kejriwal was withdrawn by Singapore and an email shows that the invitation was cancelled, sources added.
Sources further said Singapore cancelled Kejriwal’s invite due to late application. Kejriwal missed the deadline for accepting the invitation to Singapore on July 20, 2022, resulting in the automatic cancellation of his invitation, sources added.
Kejriwal wrote to the MEA for approval of this visit on July 21, a day after the Singapore deadline had expired.
The tug-of-war over Kejriwal’s proposed visit comes amid another low in Centre-State relations with L-G Saxena recommending a CBI probe into alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses in implementation of the Delhi government’s excise policy 2021-22. The excise department is headed by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.