New Delhi: The AAP on Wednesday alleged that the BJP and its government were more concerned about their image abroad than the children in India after the saffron party accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of serious violation of constitutional propriety with his remarks on COVID strain in Singapore. The two parties sparred after Singapore called the Indian envoy and conveyed to him its strong objections to the "unfounded assertions" by Kejriwal and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar ticked off the Delhi chief minister, saying he does not speak for India and irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships.
In his controversial tweet, Kejriwal had on Tuesday called for cancelling all air services with Singapore with immediate effect, saying "a new strain" of coronavirus found there could reach Delhi and was "very dangerous" for children. "Meddling in foreign policy matters which is as per the Constitution of India is not a state subject amounts to serious violation of constitutional propriety," BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said.
He charged Kejriwal with seeking political mileage at the cost of India's image with his "irresponsible" tweet and said the Delhi chief minister keeps making "hue and cry" over one issue or another so that nobody questions him on his "all-round failure" in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in the city. "Kejriwal has presented his toolkit of spreading confusion and anarchy and seems to be competing with the Congress in propagating lies and destabilizing the country," Bhatia charged.
The Aam Aadmi Party fielded Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendar Jain to defend Kejriwal. "Vaccines would be available for the adults as well as children in the country, had our foreign ministry shown same swiftness in procuring vaccines from other countries, with which it has reacted to Kejriwal's statement," Sisodia said.
He said the BJP-led government needs to prioritise children, instead of playing politics and "fixing its image" abroad. Jain too claimed there was a "different strain" of coronavirus spreading in Singapore.
"There are many strains of coronavirus in India at present… Their presence is ascertained through genome sequencing. It is a different strain (in Singapore) indeed. Whether it is from Singapore, Delhi, America or London, what's important is that the strains are different," he told reporters. Sisodia said, "Kejriwal talked of Singapore strain and the children. The issue is not Singapore but safety of our children," he said. The deputy chief minister further alleged that the Centre had failed to act when scientists and doctors alerted about the "London strain" of COVID which has now led to large number of deaths in India.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal rightly notified two facts to the public- firstly, the development of new strain in Singapore and secondly how this strain might affect children and India needed to be careful, Sisodia said. "However, instead of preparing or taking any action on this important input, the Central government has shown condemnable behaviour by playing cheap politics of blame and lies," he alleged.
The Delhi unit of BJP slammed Sisodia saying he was indulging in "melodrama" to save Kejriwal from "embarassment" "The denial by Singapore government has left CM Arvind Kejriwal shamed before the world and Manish Sisodia today tried to give the issue a melodramatic turn to save him from further embarrassment in Delhi," Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said. Sisodia, however, lashed out at the BJP for "ridiculing" Kejriwal.
"It only indicates that party and and its central government are more worried about Singapore and how Singapore views us.They will not bring vaccines for children but worry about Singapore, he said. Bhatia alleged the AAP government believes in the PPP model of "publicity, cheap politics and panic" as Kejriwal did not even try to verify before posting his controversial tweet. In its statement, the Singapore foreign ministry said there is no "Singapore variant" and that the strain prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant. MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian High Commissioner conveyed to the Singapore government that the Delhi chief minister had no competence to comment on COVID variants.
After Kejriwal's tweet, Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri had reminded him that all international flights have been stopped since March 2020 and there isn't even an air bubble arrangement with Singapore. Only a few flights are being operated between the two countries under Vande Bharat Mission to bring stranded Indians back, he added.
"We are still keeping an eye on the situation. All precautions are being taken," Puri had noted.