Saturday, December 2, 2023

Kejriwal meets Modi, seeks statehood for Delhi

New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) Two days before taking oath as chief minister, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal Thursday had a warm meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raised the issue of full statehood for Delhi.

Kejriwal, who is reaching out to the Modi-led central government after weeks of bitter election campaign, also invited the prime minister to his oath taking but the latter politely declined the request.

Kejriwal and his close associate Manish Sisodia, who is likely to be the deputy chief minister, were with Modi for over 20 minutes.

Modi, who during the campaign had called Kejriwal a “Naxalite” who should be banished to the forest, received the AAP leader warmly, handing him a bouquet.

He also warmly shook hands with both Kejriwal and Sisodia.

“We discussed issues concerning Delhi over ‘chai pe charcha’. One of the issues was granting Delhi full statehood,” Sisodia later told the media.

He said Modi promised to ponder over the issue and assured the AAP leaders the central government’s full cooperation to the Delhi government.

After Kejriwal led his party to a landslide win in the Delhi election Tuesday that left the BJP with just three of the 70 seats, Modi congratulated the AAP leader and invited him for a meeting over tea.

That day too he told Kejriwal that the central government would extend full cooperation to the Delhi government.

Sisodia did not not say much on the cabinet formation in Delhi.

“Nothing can said now. The final list (of ministers) would be sent to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung soon,” he said.

Keriwal and Sisodia have been meeting cabinet ministers whose ministries have a say in the affairs of Delhi.

On Wednesday, they met Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Home Minister Rajnath Singh and called on President Pranab Mukherjee.

Naidu’s ministry controls the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and large areas of land in the capital. The home ministry controls Delhi Police.

Thursday’s Modi-Kejriwal meeting — their first — is expected to break the ice in their relations.

The AAP leader took on Modi at Varanasi during the Lok Sabha election and lost badly.

On Tuesday, the AAP turned the tables on the BJP, delivering to Modi’s party its first defeat since its Lok Sabha triumph.

Like in December 2013, Kejriwal will take oath as chief minister at the sprawling Ramlila Maidan in the heart of Delhi.

An estimated 100,000 people attended that event in 2013, when the AAP created a sensation by winning 28 seats in its maiden election. It formed a government with Congress help that lasted just 49 days.

Now that the AAP has won a staggering 67 of the 70 seats, both the party and police are expecting a much larger crowd.

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