New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday declined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to a meeting of all party presidents that is scheduled for Wednesday.
She intimated her refusal to attend the meeting in a letter to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.
In the letter, she told Joshi that the agenda for the meeting, ‘One Nation, One Election’, needed to be discussed over a considerable length of time.
She suggested to “circulate a White Paper on the subject to all political parties inviting their views by providing adequate time” instead of calling them together in person on such short notice.
She also affirmed that her party would “whole-heartedly” participate in the celebrations of 75 years of Independence and 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The letter by Mamata Banerjee to Pralhad Joshi
The move is not a first from the Trinamool Congress supremo as she had earlier boycotted a NITI Aayog meeting called by Modi as recently as June 15.
"Given the fact that the NITI Aayog has no financial powers and the power to support state plans, it is fruitless for me to attend the meeting of a body that is bereft of any financial powers," she reasoned in a response to Modi.
In the recent letter to the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Banerjee also stated that she disagreed with the idea of setting up ‘Aspirational Districts’ as discussed in the NITI Aayog meeting she refused to attend. The proposition was against her state’s ideal of uniform growth.
Her refusal to attend the party presidents’ meeting is a third such instance in about two months.
Banerjee had also skipped the oath-taking ceremony of the new Council of Ministers following the 2019 Lok Sabha elections despite initially accepting the invite.
Her constant refusals emerge from the bitter rivalry between her party and the BJP, which during the Lok Sabha polls took the form of violent clashes between workers and supporters from both parties in West Bengal during and after the elections.
Clashes between the party workers of both camps broke out during Amit Shah’s rally. Later, TMC MLA Satyajit Biswas was also shot dead as news of sporadic violence across the state made headlines.
The TMC had at the time also alleged that Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue was vandalized during Shah’s roadshow by BJP workers, in a bid to hurt cultural sentiments of the people in the state.