No objection to presence of Kejriwal, Sisodia at school event: US embassy

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodiya releasing the Aam Admi Party Manifesto for upcoming Delhi Assembly polls in New Delhi. Photo: DALIP KUMAR

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 at the same time appreciated their "recognition that it is not a political event".

Delhi government sources on Saturday said Kejriwal and Sisodia will not attend the event as their names were dropped from the guest list.

"While US Embassy had no objection to the presence of CM and Deputy CM, 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.

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

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

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

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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