Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday attended the closing ceremony of the World Culture Festival organised by Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living foundation on Yamuna banks.
It was the first time that the Delhi chief minister was sharing stage with the BJP president Amit Shah, both of whom lit lamps together before the start of the function.
Among other guests present on the stage were Union Finance Minister Arunn Jaitley, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Addressing the crowd, Kejriwal described the event ‘majestic’ attributing the ‘unprecedented success’ of the event to ‘divine intervention.’
He said, “This is amazing. 4500 artists performing at a stage spread over 7 acre is unprecedented. This is divine. Guruji (Sri Sri) is taking the message of spirituality and love to every corner of the world. That’s precisely why so many people from around the world have gathered here. World over, attempts are being made to create the atmosphere of hatred. But, I believe that you can’t defeat hatred with hatred. It can only be defeated by love and that’s precisely what Guru ji is doing today.”
An overwhelmed Kejriwal congratulated Sri Sri for having invited him for the event ‘enabling’ him to witness an ‘unprecedented’ gathering.
He said, “I want to congratulate Guru ji and thank him for inviting me here. I got an opportunity to be witness to such an unprecedented scene.”
Kejriwal showered praises on the Art of Living volunteers and credited Sri Sri with having cast a magic on them. He requested him to allow the volunteers to be used for various initiatives carried out by Delhi government.
He said, “Guruji, I’m very selfish. I want to ask two things from you. Your Art of Living volunteers are simply amazing and disciplined and civilised. Don’t know what magic you’ve cast on them that they are always smiling (loud cheers). Please provide us these volunteers to various initiatives that Delhi government carry out. Hope you will not disappoint me.”
Kejriwal also said that he would like to request Sri Sri and the Centre to come together so that ‘we can all join in to clean up Yamuna.’
Kejriwal was accompanied by his minister Kapil Mishra, who tweeted saying how the BJP leaders had not removed their shoes while lighting the lamp, a religious ritual.
— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishra_IND) March 13, 2016
Sri Sri has been a controversial figure since he actively supported the BJP and publicly endorsed Narendra Modi’s candidature as prime minister in 2014. Since then, he’s been an active support of the saffron party.
His World Culture Festival was slammed by the National Green Tribunal for allegedly flouting environmental norms.
Kejriwal’s support to the event, organised by a BJP-supporting spiritual guru had stunned an overwhelming majority of his own supporters who felt betrayed by what they felt was ‘political opportunism.’
His supporters also felt pained because of his alleged collusion in allowing Sri Sri to damage the biodiversity of Yamuna, he had vowed to protect before he became Delhi chief minister.