The Centre has denied West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee permission to attend the World Peace Conference to be held in Rome, in October 2021.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs denied her clearance because the ‘event is not commensurate in status for participation by the chief minister of a state’.
The TMC supremo, who is campaigning for the bye-election in Bhabanipur constituency of West Bengal Assembly said, “There was a meeting on world peace in Rome, where I was invited. German Chancellor, Pope Francis are also supposed to attend. Italy had given special permission for me to attend, yet Centre denied clearance, saying it wasn’t right for CM.”
The CM further said that she is not eager to visit foreign countries, but this was about the respect of the nation.
“You will not be able to stop me. You (PM Modi) keep talking about Hindus. I am also a Hindu woman, why did you not allow me? You are totally jealous,” Banerjee added.
Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Alzhar, Ahmad Al Tayyib, are expected to attend the conference scheduled on October 6 and 7. The event will be centred on Mother Teresa – honoured in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
Earlier, the Italian government had requested Banerjee not to come with any delegates. The CM then proposed an industry delegation clearance and requested the MEA for the same. However, the clearance was not given.
TMC spokesperson Debangshu Bhattacharya Dev criticised the decision. “Central government denied permission for Didi’s Rome trip! Previously they’ve cancelled the permission of China trip too. We accepted that decision keeping international relations and India’s interests in mind. Now why Italy Modi ji? What is your problem with Bengal? Chi!” he wrote on Twitter.
“This is nothing but vindictive politics. The BJP has suffered a humiliating defeat in the West Bengal elections and is now desperately trying to stop Mamata Banerjee and her growing popularity in whatever way they can. They can’t digest the defeat,” said Tapas Roy, another TMC spokesperson.
“The TMC doesn’t know that such decisions are not taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party. India has a foreign policy and it is the Ministry of External Affairs that takes the call,” said Jay Prakash Majumdar, vice president of the BJP in West Bengal.
Mamata challenged the ruling party BJP and said the ‘Khela’ would end only after her TMC wins the entire nation.
Earlier in September 2016, the chief minister had attended the canonisation of Mother Teresa at Vatican City. The then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj also attended it.
(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: Reuters)