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Oxford Union postpones Mamata's address, TMC alleges 'political pressure'

Oxford Union postpones Mamatas address, TMC alleges political pressure
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Kolkata: The Oxford Union Debating Society on Wednesday sought to postpone a virtual address by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the last moment citing "unforeseen circumstances".

Suspecting a deep-rooted conspiracy, Trinamool Congress leadership believes that "tremendous pressure from the topmost levels" led to the postponement of the Chief Minister's address in the international platform just 15 minutes before its scheduled time to start.

Banerjee was supposed to address the Oxford Union debate from 2.30 pm on Wednesday. She would have been the first Indian woman leader and an administrative head to address the forum where US Presidents, British Prime Ministers and legends like Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson have spoken.

Around 2.14 pm, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) received an email from the president of Oxford Union informing the postponement and stating that "it is incredibly unfortunate: all of us from many countries were looking forward to it. Our audience in Oxford sent a great many questions, and we were all working hard to pull a number of elements together. However, nothing prevails over circumstances sometimes, it seems."

The programme was fixed more than four months ago and the organiser even called the CMO on Wednesday morning to change the time of her address from 5 pm to 2.30 pm. The CMO has informed them of agreeing upon the change in time. Later they sent an email seeking "apologies for the event being unable to go ahead as planned".

In this connection, the state Home department tweeted: "While Hon'ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, was scheduled to address the Oxford Union debating society today afternoon, the organizers have suddenly sought postponement and rescheduling of the programme at the last moment!"

"The request has been made telephonically from the organisers' end, citing some unforeseen problems, a brief while ago. The programme with Oxford Union today stands cancelled," it further stated in a tweet.

As this is not the first time when her programme in an international forum has been cancelled at the last moment, Trinamool Congress leaders raised the question as to "who is blocking these programmes?"

A senior party leader stated that they "condemn such politics as there was tremendous pressure from topmost level to stop the address of Mamata Banerjee, country's most respected Opposition leader".

They are also not ruling out the possibility of a conspiracy to postpone Banerjee's address as the group with vested interest does not want her to get international recognition. It may be recalled that the Ramakrishna Mission Vedanta Centre in Chicago had invited Banerjee to address the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanada at the Centre.

She had also agreed to address the gathering but at the eleventh hour the Union Home department raised objections and the Chicago centre wrote a letter tendering apology and postponed the programme due to unavoidable circumstances. Again in 2018, the Chief Minister's visit to China was also postponed just a few hours ahead of the scheduled departure.

In the same year, Banerjee's lecture on "Idea of India" at St Stephens College on August 1 was cancelled.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister will hold an administrative review meeting at Raniganj in West Burdwan on December 8 and address a gathering at a benefits distribution programme.

She is also scheduled to hold public rallies in Midnapore on December 7 and Bongaon in North 24-Parganas on December 9. She will speak to all TMC district leaders through a video conference on December 4.

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