Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal drew flak from the Opposition after schoolchildren formed his name with placards at Chattrasal Stadium during the Independence Day celebrations on Saturday.
The photographs of the students forming the CM’s name also created a storm on social media with people drawing parallels between Kejriwal and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Within hours, the AAP justified the Kejriwal placards by releasing six photographs of past Independence Day celebrations in which the names of chief guests at the function, including former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Lieutanant Governor Najeeb Jung, were on display by schoolchildren.
“These photographs speak for themselves. The government wants to set the record straight that it does not interfere in preparations for celebrations of events of national importance,” the press statement said.
The BJP state cell called the AAP leader self-obsessed and demanded an apology. “It is clear now that the chief minister is megalomaniac,” said R P Singh, BJP national secretary. The Delhi government had “politically misused” the I-Day function, said the party.
The display was among several other messages like “Welcome”, “Thank You” and the Tricolour formation. The display came up a few times during Kejriwal’s speech. But people commented harshly on Twitter after photographs of Kejriwal’s name being spelled out were posted online.
Law Minister Kapil Mishra had also posted a photograph of the display, which Twitter users did not take to kindly. Prashant Bhushan, who was ousted from the party, criticised Kejriwal: “From crs on personality cult promoting Kejriwal ads to Jai Ho Kejriwal instead of Jai Hind. Shameful Megalomania!”
Yogendra Yadav tweeted that Delhi AAP had touched a “new low”. Author and columnist Suhel Seth drew similarities between the Delhi chief minister and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un: “Just heard: Kim Jong Un of North Korea invites Arvind Kejriwal to be his mentor and the Chief Guest at their Cheap Publicity Parade.” Several others tweeted the photographs with “height of shameless brag”, “students hold placards of Arvind Kejriwal, not freedom fighters” and “Happy Kejriwal Day” comments.
The CM tried to distance himself from the incident. “Some school students made visual formation of my name during Independence Day celebrations. I was not at all aware that students wud do this. I am told it has been a practice in del govt to form visual formation of whoever chief guest is (CM or L-G). I agree this is a wrong practice. I will stop this practice,” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.
A government release said this was not a “new practice” started by the AAP as was being speculated.