Dr. Veda Pratap Vaidik
It seems the Modi Government at the Centre is attempting to block Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from going abroad. His request for foreign trip was languishing in the Lieutenant Governor’s office for the past one month. For any official foreign jaunt of the Chief Minister needs consent from both the Lieutenant Governor and the Ministry of External Affairs. My contention is why such consents are made mandatory to the chief minister for foreign travel? Is he a criminal trying to flee the country? Is he flying abroad to do something that could defame our nation? Is he going abroad to launch any conspiracy with the enemies against our country? Has worked out any design to stash his black money in that country? Till date no such allegation has been leveled against any Chief Minister. Narendra Modi himself has visited many countries as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The then Congress government at the centre never obstructed his foreign tours at any point of time.
My contention is about the stoic silence from the Modi Government on Kejriwal’s proposed visit to Singapore? He is supposed to travel to Singapore in the first week of August. His Singapore trip is not for merry making with the family. Kejriwal is flying to that country as chief minister of Delhi to represent the Nation’s Capital City in the ‘World Cities Conference’ where prominent leaders from all over the world are participating. In the conference, Kejriwal is to give a detailed presentation of the “Delhi Model” of governance and that could boost the reputation of our country.
In 2019 also the Ministry of External Affairs did not permit Arvind Kejriwal to attend the World Mayors Conference in Copenhagen. Earlier Sheila Dikshit, as chief minister of Delhi, had participated in the same conference and during the deliberations she had deftly elaborated to the participants on how her government could revamp the National Capital to the present status. Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia together have done the same with improved excellence.
The wife of the US President and the Secretary-General of the United Nations had applauded the commendable job from the duo. Delhi’s hospitals, schools, roads, mohalla clinics, cheap electricity and water etc. have given Kejriwal’s AAP government tremendous public appeal. The voters’ appreciation to Kejriwal’s AAP was so colossal that both Congress and BJP were wiped out in the last assembly elections. The wisdom needs to dawn on the Modi government that the more it harasses the Kejriwal government using the Lieutenant Governor, the more it will become unpopular among the people of Delhi.
It is fine, the Central Government takes precautionary measures to prevent officials making any objectionable statement or engaging in any undesirable deed while visiting other countries. The Ministry of External Affairs needs to give proper guidance with regards to maintaining decorum and discipline while in other countries. I am sure all our leaders are well aware of their responsibility and exercise needed restraint during their foreign trips. I have never condemned any government or adversary in my speeches during my foreign travels. I systematically maintain decency and modesty within my country also, giving hardly any chance to cast aspirations on me.
Why should the Modi government assume that if any of its opposition leaders go abroad, they are likely to make slanderous remarks on the government? Even if someone does so, the government has many ways to counter that. I know this from my personal experience that officials are deployed for gathering intelligence while any prominent leader is going abroad. My firm conviction is, despite the initial hiccups the Central Government and the Lieutenant Governor will clear the request from Arvind Kejriwal. He will fly down to Singapore and win accolades for the country from the world leaders attending the ‘World Cities Conference.’
*Dr. Vaidik is a widely travelled scholar-journalist. He has visited more than 80 countries on diplomatic and educational missions. Dr. Vaidik has won more than a dozen National and International awards for academic and journalistic excellence. He has been a member of several Advisory Committees of Government of India.