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Happy that debate has begun on CM staging a protest: Kejriwal

New Delhi, Jan 26, 2014, (PTI) 19:21 IST
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said Republic Day speech of President Pranab Mukherjee, who indirectly took a dig at his two-day dharna, had generated a debate whether staging a protest by Chief Minister was constitutional or unconstitutional. Reuters File Photo
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said Republic Day speech of President Pranab Mukherjee, who indirectly took a dig at his two-day dharna, had generated a debate whether staging a protest by Chief Minister was constitutional or unconstitutional.

"I am happy that this is being debated now," said Kejriwal who was cornered by journalists and other invitees in Mughal Garden where he was attending his first 'At Home' function after taking over as the Chief Minister.

He was asked about his reaction on the President's Republic Day eve speech where he had made a veiled attack on Kejriwal's street protests, saying the government is not a "charity shop" and "populist anarchy" cannot be a substitute for governance.

"The government is not a charity shop. Populist anarchy cannot be a substitute for governance. False promises lead to disillusionment, which gives birth to rage, and that rage has one legitimate target: those in power," Mukherjee had said yesterday evening in his address to the nation.

Kejriwal said it was the President's or the Centre's point of view but "I am happy that at least a debate has kicked off on whether a dharna by Chief Minister leads to a constitutional crisis or not."

"Please look at the newspapers. Some are in favour and some are critical and a healthy debate is always very good in a democracy," Kejriwal said.

As Kejriwal was speaking, German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner walked upto him and said that their President Joachim Gauck was visiting India next month and their request for a meeting had been turned down by the Chief Minister's office.

"Mr Chief Minister, since both of you came into prominence after a civil rights movement, we wanted a meeting between you two. However, your office has turned down the request. So I was wondering if their could be any rethinking on this," the envoy told the Chief Minister.

Kejriwal prompted replied that he would definitely reschedule some of his appointments and work out the possibility of calling on the visiting President.

Replying to questions, Kejriwal said his focus was on the two bills -- Jan Lokpal Bill and Swaraj Bill -- after which he would be giving attention to other issues.

Asked whether he was undermining the importance of institutions like the police by staging protest, he said, "All I want is that the people in the national capital should feel safe. Now this is not an unconstitutional demand that I am making. I am more bothered about safety and providing basic amenities to my people."

Kejriwal also made it clear that his government had not made up its mind for the foreign direct investment issue because it did not figure in his priority list.

"More than FDI, I am concerned about the safety of my people," he said.

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