Centre denies permission to Mamata's Rome trip
Kolkata: Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his visit to the US when students and entrepreneurs cannot travel to many countries due to the Centre's "faulty vaccination policy", Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee — who is contesting from Bhabanipur — hit out at the Centre on Saturday for "hatching conspiracy" and "denying clearance" to her to visit Rome to address the World Meeting for Peace just out of "jealousy".
"Leaders of all religions will be attending the World Peace meeting promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome (on October 6 and 7). His Holiness Pope Francis, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Great Imam of Al-Azhar (Egypt) HE Ahmad al-Tayyib and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would be attending the meeting. I never differentiate among religions and humanity is my only "ism". Since BJP endorses Hinduism, I would like to raise a question that then why did you not allow a Hindu woman to attend the Peace meeting in which I would have represented the country. This is a conspiracy hatched out of utter jealousy," Banerjee said while addressing a rally at the by-poll bound ward number 63 of Bhabanipur Assembly segment.
Stating that "one cannot stop her by hatching such conspiracy", she further said: "You always make false claim that Mamata Banerjee did not allow Durga Puja in Bengal. Then why are you restricting me to attend such a religious event in which I would have highlighted the messages of Mother Teresa, Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Jains and ISCKON."
Despite the Bengal government informing the Centre about the invitation to Banerjee as the only Indian to be a part of the international event that has been named this year as "Peoples as Brothers, Future Earth" — in the month of August, the Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday communicated to the state government that "event (in Rome) is not commensurate for the level of Chief Minister".
Terming it as a vendetta politics, Banerjee said: "I got special permission to visit Rome along with my delegation when people from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are not allowed to enter Italy due to Covid. But it is sad to note that we were not given permission despite being courteous enough to seek the Centre's clearance as it is related to the affairs of the country's external affairs. There are many Chief Ministers who hardly bother to seek permission from the Centre in such cases. Today, they (Centre) said that the political clearance is denied to attend this programme. My intention is never to go for a foreign tour. But the visit to Rome is essential as it is related to the country's pride and I am the only one to be invited from entire Asia."
Banerjee was invited in appreciation of her work for "social justice", "development" and "peace" and this came at a time when the BJP has been constantly undermining the Chief Minister's efforts and trying to establish that there is a deterioration of law and order in Bengal after she came to power for the third time despite her constant endeavours towards the promotion of peace which is drawing global recognition.
This would have been Banerjee's second visit to Rome and her first International tour after returning to power for the third consecutive term with a thumping majority in the last Assembly polls. Banerjee earlier visited Rome in September 2016 when she attended the Canonisation ceremony of Mother Teresa at the Invitation of Missionaries of Charity.
Banerjee, who played a crucial role in restoring peace at both the state and national level and set a milestone by bringing back "peace and plenty" in tribal-dominated Jangalmahal in the western part of Bengal and also in the Hills in the north, had to postpone the virtual address of the Oxford Union Debating Society on December 2 in 2020 at the last moment citing "unforeseen circumstances". Suspecting a deep-rooted conspiracy behind it, Trinamool Congress leadership claimed that "tremendous pressure from the topmost (Centre) levels" led to the postponement of the Chief Minister's address in the international platform just 15 minutes before it was scheduled to start.
It may be recalled that the Ramakrishna Mission Vedanta Centre at Chicago had invited Banerjee to address the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at the Centre. She also agreed to address the gathering. However, 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 her scheduled departure. In the same year, Banerjee's lecture on "Idea of India" at St Stephens College on August 1 was cancelled. A certain Trinamool Congress MP had then maintained that "Mamata Banerjee is giving the BJP-RSS sleepless nights. Let them keep trying…she cannot be silenced…"
Stating that Bhabanipur would pave the way for the entire country's development, Banerjee came down heavily on Congress stating that the BJP "has managed Congress but it has failed to manage the Trinamool Congress".