The Centre’s denial of permission to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to attend the C40 Climate Summit currently underway at Copenhagen, Denmark, has come in for sharp criticism from various quarters. Kejriwal was one of the speakers at the Summit (being held from October 9 to 12), and was supposed to showcase Delhi as a successful case study for reduction in air pollution. Air pollution has gone down by over 25 per cent in the city during the past five years.
Raghav Chadha, AAP spokesperson told The Kochi Post that whatever be the reason for the denial of permission to Kejriwal, it was an insult to the people of Delhi. He added, “They did the same last year when they denied permission to Manish Sisodia to go to Moscow to attend the World Education Conference. The Union government has been treating the people of Delhi with utmost contempt…If you disrespect a government that has been elected by a thumping majority, you are disrespecting the people.”
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, at a press conference yesterday, defended the government’s decision not to grant permission, saying it was meant for “mayor-level” participants and did not behove the status of the Delhi Chief Minister. Kejriwal was to lead an eight-member delegation to the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the nodal ministry, did not give clearance for Kejriwal’s visit.
Chadha dubbed Javadekar’s statement “incorrect, ill-informed and misleading.” He said, “C40 is a group of the world’s largest cities committed to tackling climate change. The frivolous reasoning supplied by Mr Javadekar does not stand scrutiny. He did not check his facts before speaking; had he done so, he would have known that in 2007, the late Sheila Dikshit, then Delhi Chief Minister, had led the delegation to the C40 Climate Change Summit held in New York. Various mayors and chief ministers from around the world had participated in that summit….Multilateral summits like C40 choose their invitees carefully. Is Mr Javadekar trying to say that he knows more than the organizers of the summit, on who should have been invited?”
The denial is being interpreted as an expression of insecurity on the part of the Centre. The lead editorial in today’s The Indian Express states, “Are there some in this government, that rules the country with such a handsome mandate, who feel insecure by the prospect of an Opposition leader going overseas—especially if the latter also has a perceived success story to showcase?”
The spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar had stated that a decision on political clearance was based on multiple inputs, taking into account the nature of the event, the level of participation by other countries, and the type of invitation extended. The C40 Cities’ website lists Kejriwal among the list of speakers. The website says, “The C40 World Mayors Summit, taking place in Copenhagen from 9-12 October, 2019, will showcase examples of how cities are already delivering on their strong commitments and accelerate the bold climate solutions needed for a sustainable, healthier, resilient and inclusive future. The 2019 Summit aims to build a global coalition of leading cities, businesses and citizens that rallies around the radical and ambitious climate action our planet needs.”
With Delhi elections around the corner, the Delhi Chief Minister would have greatly benefitted from this enhanced global image, and that explains why the Centre denied him permission.
Update: The Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, will be addressing the C40 Climate Change Summit in Denmark through Video Conferencing.