The United States Embassy on Sunday said that while it was not against the presence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia during the visit of the country’s First Lady Melania Trump to a government school in the national Capital, the event should not be seen as political, PTI reported. The visit will be a part of United States President Donald Trump and Melania Trump’s two day-visit to India, beginning Monday.
“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,” a statement by the embassy said.
The clarification came following the reports of Kejriwal and Sisodia being left out of the school visit.
On Tuesday, Melania Trump is expected to attend a class on the “happiness curriculum” – a flagship scheme of the Kejriwal-led administration that was introduced by Sisodia in July 2018 – at a school in South Delhi. The curriculum focuses on the mental health of children, and involves 40 minutes of meditation, and other relaxing and outdoor activities. Sisodia is also Delhi’s education minister.
In a statement on Sunday, Sisodia said he and the chief minister would have “loved to personally receive” the United States First Lady, reported Hindustan Times. “However, certain concerns were expressed by US embassy regarding CM and Deputy CM accompanying the First Lady during the school visit,” the statement read. “We respect the same. We welcome hon’ble US First Lady whole heartedly and will do our best to facilitate the tour.”
Sisodia said that Melania Trump’s school visit was a matter of huge pride for their administration, teachers, and students. “It is a big appreciation for us that the work of AAP [Aam Aadmi Party] government in education sector, especially Happiness Classes, is being recognised in the world,” he added.
Meanwhile, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj pointed out that it was “protocol” for India’s state leaders to be present when foreign politicians attend events in their states. He also alleged that Kejriwal and Sisodia’s names had been dropped from the invitee list to the Delhi school on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s behest.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, however, refuted Bharadwaj’s claim and said there should not be any “low-level politics or petty politics” on matters of national interest.
The Narendra Modi-led administration’s decision to include AAP’s flagship scheme in the Trumps’ programme came weeks after the BJP claimed during the Delhi Assembly election campaign that public schools in the national Capital were in poor condition. In 2018, the education ministers of Afghanistan and UAE, along with officials from several other Asian countries, had attended a happiness class in a school in Central Delhi.
The Trumps will land in Ahmedabad around noon on February 24 and attend an event at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, which is the world’s biggest cricket stadium. The US president will address the event along with Modi.