Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday expressed displeasure over not being invited for the Republic Day parade but diluted his indignation within hours in the face of adverse political reactions and the realization that protocol may not entitle him to such an invite.
“I want to attend the celebrations, I don’t know why I wasn’t invited” he told reporters, almost a year after threatening to disrupt the parade by flooding the Rajpath with his supporters.
Though he received support from his party and surprisingly, the Congress, senior BJP leaders reminded Kejriwal he had jeopardised last year’s programme.
By evening, Kejriwal had softened. “If protocol says an invite should not be sent, they shouldn’t send it. There shouldn’t be any politics over it,” he told reporters.
With five days to go for the Republic Day parade last year, the then Delhi CM sat on a 32-hour-long protest in front of Rail Bhavan in the heart of Delhi.
“Republic Day does not mean people enjoying a tableau, it means the rule of people. If the Centre does not agree to our demands by January 26, then we will fill the Rajpath with lakhs of people. There won’t be processions,” Kejriwal had said.
His comments had made then President Pranab Mukherjee to caution populist anarchy couldn’t be a substitute for governance.
Earlier in the day, the AAP attacked the Centre for not inviting Kejriwal. “He is not only the former CM but also a popular leader of Delhi, a respected person.
This shows political hatred,” party leader Ashutosh said. He also received support from the Congress with party MLA Randeep Singh Surjewala saying the episode was reflective of the BJP government’s petty mindset.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan hit back, saying Kejriwal had proclaimed himself an anarchist.
“Kejriwal as the CM of Delhi was protesting on the same Rajpath last year and was asking people not to let the Republic Day celebrations take place,” Vardhan said. The AAP chief, however, denied saying Republic Day should not be celebrated.
Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay also said Kejriwal shouldn’t attend the parade. “Should a man who did not respect the Republic Day last year and threatened to disrupt the function be present there?” he asked.