Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said that he will go ahead with his visit to Singapore, hours after Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena reportedly advised him against it.
Kejriwal was invited to the World Cities Summit 2022 by the High Commissioner of Singapore Simon Wong on June 1. However, a file related to his participation in the summit was stuck at Saxena’s office since June 7.
The summit will be held on August 3 and August 4.
The Delhi chief minister had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 17 to permit him to travel to Singapore so that he could participate represent India at the summit.
On Thursday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that Saxena has advised Kejriwal not to attend the event in Singapore and that the chief minister has now sought “political clearance” from the Ministry of External Affairs.
“Having studied the nature of the forum and other attendees, it must be noted that on a prima facie basis this is a conference of Mayors of various cities,” a letter reportedly written by the lieutenant governor said. It was shared by the Aam Aadmi Party on Twitter.
Saxena, in his letter, also said that the subjects deliberated in the conference cover different aspects of urban governance, which are addressed by bodies such as the New Delhi Municipal Council, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Delhi Development Authority and the Delhi government. The Centre controls the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Development Authority, and the Bharatiya Janata Party controls the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
“The GNCTD [Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi] does not have exclusive domain over these issues corresponding with the theme of the conference,” the letter by Saxena said.
In response, Kejriwal said that he differs with the opinion expressed by the lieutenant governor and asked him to seek clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs.
“It is not just a Mayor’s conference,” Kejriwal said. “It is a conference of Mayors, city leaders, knowledge experts etc. Singapore government has chosen to invite the CM of Delhi.”
Kejriwal claimed that the Delhi model of governance was being discussed the world over, and said that it was a matter of great pride.
The AAP chief further said that if the visit of each constitutional authority were to be decided on the basis of what subjects fall within their jurisdiction, it would create a funny situation.
“Then the Prime Minister would not be able to go anywhere because, in most of his visits, he also discusses subjects which fall in the state list and do not fall in his jurisdiction,” Kejriwal said. “Then no CM would ever be able to make any visit anywhere in the world.”
In 2019, the Centre had denied Kejriwal permission to visit Denmark for a climate summit. The then Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said that decisions on permission to go abroad were taken on the basis of multiple considerations.
“We get hundreds of requests for political clearances every month from ministries, secretaries, bureaucrats,” he had said. “A decision is based on multiple inputs.”