No objection to presence of Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia during Melania Trump's visit to Delhi govt schools, says US embassy

US embassy stressed that it was not a political event and the intention was to focus on education and students

Press Trust of India February 24, 2020 13:15:47 IST
No objection to presence of Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia during Melania Trump's visit to Delhi govt schools, says US embassy
  • US embassy on Sunday said it did not have any objection to the presence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia during US First Lady Melania Trump's visit to a Delhi government school

  • US embassy stressed that it was not a political event and the intention was to focus on education and students

  • The clarification came after Delhi government sources had said on Saturday Kejriwal and Sisodia will not attend the event as their names were dropped from the guest list

New Delhi: The US embassy on Sunday said it did not have any objection to the presence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia during US First Lady Melania Trump's visit to a Delhi government school, but stressed that it was not a political event and the intention was to focus on education and students.

No objection to presence of Arvind Kejriwal Manish Sisodia during Melania Trumps visit to Delhi govt schools says US embassy

File image of Arvind Kejriwal. Twitter@ArvindKejriwal

The clarification came after Delhi government sources had said on Saturday Kejriwal and Sisodia will not attend the event as their names were dropped from the guest list. Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party blamed the BJP-led central government for it.

After the US embassy's reaction, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that they respected the concerns raised by the US Embassy and the First Lady's visit is a matter of pride for his government.

Melania, wife of US President Donald Trump, is scheduled to visit the school on Monday to watch "happiness classes" and interact with the students.

According to the original schedule, Kejriwal and Sisodia were to welcome Melania at the school and brief her about rationale behind the introduction of happiness classes as well as the Delhi government's overall reform initiatives in the education sector, officials in the city had said.

"While US Embassy had no objection to the presence of chief minister and deputy chief minister, we appreciate their recognition that this isn't a political event and that it's best to ensure focus is on education, school, and students," a spokesperson in the US embassy said following a media query on the issue.

Sisodia, who is also Delhi's education minister, said they would have loved to receive the US First Lady Melania Trump ad brief her about the concept of happiness classes.

"Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and I would have loved to personally receive the First Lady in the Delhi Govt school and brief her about the concept of Happiness Classes and the positive impact that it has had on students, during her visit to the classrooms," he said in an official statement.

"However, certain concerns were expressed by US embassy regarding chief minister and deputy chief minister accompanying first lady during the school visit. We respect the same. We welcome first lady wholeheartedly and will do our best to facilitate the tour," he added.

Sources in the Delhi government said the US embassy communicated to the city administration on Saturday morning that the names of Kejriwal and Sisodia do not figure in the list of invitees for the event.

"It is a matter of great pride for Delhi Government, Delhi government teachers and students that First Lady Melania Trump is visiting a Delhi Govt school. It is a big appreciation for us that the work of AAP government in education sector, especially Happiness Classes, is being recognised in the world," Sisodia said.

Expressing anguish over exclusion of names of the two leaders from the event, Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said it has been a "protocol" and "convention" that state leaders are present when any foreign leader attends events in their states.

He also alleged that the names of Kejriwal and Sisodia have been dropped from the guest list at the behest of the BJP-led central government.

When asked about the issue of Kejriwal not being part of the guest list for Melania's visit to the Delhi school, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that there shouldn't be any "low-level politics or petty politics" on issues which are of national interest.

The Delhi government introduced the happiness curriculum in July, 2018.

As per the curriculum, students studying in classes I-VIII at Delhi government schools spend 45 minutes every day to attend "happiness classes" where they participate in activities like storytelling, meditation and question and answer sessions.

Similarly, for nursery and kindergarten students, the classes are held twice a week. The Arvind Kejriwal-led government has been spending a large chunk of its budget on education in the city.

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