West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (Illustration: Moneycontrol)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on September 25 that the Centre had disallowed her attendance at a global peace meet in Rome, where she was the only invitee from the country, out of jealousy.
The ministry of external affairs in a one-line communique, which reached the secretariat during the day said the "event is not commensurate for (attendance at) the level of chief minister," a secretariat official said.
The Trinamool Congress supremo said at an election meeting at Bhabanipur where she is contesting by-polls to be held on September 30, that she had been invited to Rome in the first week of October to attend a global peace meeting in which the Pope, other religious heads, dignitaries from various countries, including the German chancellor are slated to attend, where she would have been the only Indian and only Hindu lady. However, she claimed a jealous BJP did not allow that, which only lowered the esteem for India in the outside world".
Banerjee contrasted her trip's disallowance by the central government with Prime Minister Narendra Modi going ahead with his trip to the US "with special permission", despite the World Health Organisation not approving Covaxin, with which the PM had been vaccinated.
She had been invited by the president of Community of Sant'Egido Marco Impagliazzo in July to attend the two-day programme to be held in Rome from October 6.
She also hit out at the BJP government for the death of two protestors in police firing during an eviction drive against settlers allegedly on government in Darra ng.
"There was inhuman torture in Assam in the name of eviction. There was firing and bloodshed of innocent people but no NHRC team visited that state. NHRC teams visits only Bengal frequently. It is a matter of shame," she said.
Alleging that "goonda Raj" prevails in BJP-ruled Assam, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh, Banerjee said TMC delegations are prevented, harassed and come under attack in those states. "We don't say anything about BJP leaders who keep visiting and peddling falsehood in West Bengal as free movement is everyone's democratic right," she said.
Banerjee flagged the floating of bodies of alleged COVID-19 victims in the Ganges as a failure of the UP government and pointed to selective deletion of names of tens of lakhs of people in the exercise to create a National Register of Citizens in Assam. "It (deletion of names in the final NRC) shows the anti-people nature of BJP. In contrast we have already said there will be no NRC in Bengal," the TMC supremo said.
She also accused the opposition BJP of fomenting trouble in Bhabanipur, where she is a candidate in the by-poll. "BJP only carries on 'goondagiri' (violent or thuggish behaviour), peddles false propaganda. Please foil their game plan," Banerjee said.
Listing the achievements of the TMC government, the chief minister claimed that Bengal occupies number one position in respect of vaccination against COVID-19 and in the education sector. The TMC supremo said no processions are being taken out by her party in the campaigning in Bhabanipur as directed by the Election Commission in an oblique hint that the BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal is not adhering to the norms.
She also criticised the spike in fuel prices and sale of PSUs and urged the people to defeat the "anti-people and pro-rich BJP".
Later, reacting to the MEA disallowing Banerjee to attend the peace meeting in Rome, TMC MP Sougata Roy said "The BJP government's decision is in bad taste. It lowered the country's prestige internationally."
The party's youth leader Debangshu Bhattacharya raked up the issue of Banerjee's proposed China trip in the past. He tweeted "Central government denied permission for Didi's Rome trip! Previously they've cancelled the permission of China trip too. We accepted that decision with keeping international relations and India's interests in mind. "Now why Italy Modi ji? What is your problem with Bengal? Chi! (shame)".
Banerjee had called off her trip to China just hours before her scheduled departure after failing to receive confirmation of meetings from the Chinese side.
The development had come less than two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on Chinese President Xi Jinping for what was seen as a heart-to-heart summit.
BJP state spokesman Shamik Bhattacharya responded saying "The TMC is unnecessarily doing politics. The MEA must have taken the decision based on well-established norms and protocols. There is no politics in it."