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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he is starting his journey around the country for the rights of the people of Delhi. File photo

Singapore summit: Kejriwal, BJP’s Surat mayor and 'political connection'

Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has rejected the Delhi government’s proposal for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s visit to Singapore to attend the World Cities Summit (WCS). However, the mayors’ conference will see only one Indian representation – Surat mayor Hemali Boghawala.

Lt Governor Saxena denied Kejriwal permission saying that the four-day conference from July 31 to August 3 was for mayors of various cities. “It is not advisable for a chief minister to be attending such a conference,” he said.

After his proposal was rejected by Saxena, Kejriwal has now written to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking “political clearance” to attend the event, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.

With the BJP deciding to send its Surat mayor Boghawala, many see it as a “political connection”.

Also read: Kejriwal firm on attending Singapore Summit after Delhi LG rejects proposal

Kejriwal’s AAP is the main opposition party in the Surat Municipal Corporation. It won 27 of 120 wards in last year’s elections. This performance had taken the BJP by surprise.

Boghawala to speak at WCS

On the summit’s website, Boghawala has been listed as one of the participants while there is no mention of the Delhi CM. She will speak on “Liveable and sustainable cities: Cities Facing Extremes: How do we adapt’.

The biennial WCS is an exclusive platform for government leaders and industry experts to address liveable and sustainable city challenges, share integrated urban solutions and forge new partnerships, the event’s website stated.

The four-day event will comprise the main conference, which includes plenaries and tracks, and other key events such as the Lee Kuan Yew World Prize Lecture, Award Ceremony, WCS Mayors Forum, WCS Young Leaders Symposium, and our expo.

As part of the summit, there will be ‘WCS Mayors Forum’ which is “an exclusive, by-invitation-only, global platform for mayors and city leaders to discuss pressing urban challenges and share best practices”.

Surat mayor Hemali Boghawala
Surat mayor Hemali Boghawala.

AAP has questioned the BJP’s move to send Boghawala to speak at the Singapore summit.

Leader of Opposition in the Surat Municipal Corporation, AAP councillor Dharmesh Bhanderi said Kejriwal had emerged as “a global leader”.

“Surat Mayor Hemali Boghawala has no major experience as she has been in the post for only one-and-a-half years. The state BJP sent their teams to Delhi and randomly schools were selected (for assessment), but they could not find a single fault. This shows how a government works,” he said, according to an Indian Express report.

“The popularity of Kejriwal is growing not only in India but worldwide, and the BJP government is jealous of him,” he added.

BJP asks Delhi CM to show invite

The report said Gujarat BJP vice-president Janak Bagdanawala claimed Kejriwal’s protests over the Singapore assembly had been a drama. “We all know that the Delhi CM has not been invited for this occasion. So we consider that his permission request for the Singapore tour has been rejected. They’re spreading falsehoods. If he has obtained invitation, he ought to present it.”

“I will get a chance to put the projects of Surat before an international platform where major reputable financial institutions from the world will be present. This will help us get funds for such projects,” Boghawala told the newspaper.

Earlier, Kejriwal had sought the Centre’s nod for the visit. “I am not a criminal,” he said and said there is a “political reason” behind the delay in granting him permission.

Kejriwal said he was specially invited to the World Cities Summit in Singapore by the government of the country, where he would present the Delhi Model before world leaders and bring laurels to India.

‘I am not a criminal’

Last week, miffed over the pending clearance from the Centre for the visit, Kejriwal had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he has been waiting for permission for over a month.

“I am not a criminal, I am a chief minister and a free citizen of the country. There was no legal basis to stop me from visiting Singapore so there appears to be a political reason behind this,” he said.

High Commissioner of Singapore Simon Wong had in June invited Kejriwal to World Cities Summit. The Delhi chief minister has been asked to attend a programme on the first day.

(With inputs from agencies)

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