West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata: The TMC is crying foul over the last-minute cancellation of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s virtual address to the Oxford Union debating society on Wednesday afternoon.

Eyebrows were raised since the cancellation happened abruptly thirty minutes before the start of the debate.

She would have been the first Indian woman chief minister to address the prestigious society.

US Presidents, British PMs and legends like Albert Einstein and Michael Jackson have spoken here.

Incidentally, Mamata was approached way back in last July and an invitation was extended. The details of her attendance were worked upon for over three months. By an uncanny coincidence, in July 2018, Mamata was invited to attend the Parliament of World Religions marking the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda's historic speech but that event was also cancelled for inexplicable reasons. Mamata had later alleged that the Chicago event was cancelled due to an "unholy conspiracy".

“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 re-scheduling 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 (sic),” tweeted the West Bengal Home Department.

The programme was initially rescheduled on Wednesday from 5:00 pm to 2:30 pm which the Chief Minister had agreed to. The cancellation letter was addressed to Goutam Sanyal, principal secretary to the chief minister, and sent sixteen minutes before Mamata was supposed to virtually attend the event.

“I sincerely hope that the Hon’ble Chief Minister will understand and might honour us with her esteemed presence at the earliest possible convenience to you. With your permission, I will pass your details onto my successor, to whom I hand over this Friday. Once again, my deepest apologies and to reiterate the Union would be happy and proud to welcome the Hon’ble Chief Minister whenever may be convenient in her busy election schedule,” states the letter.

The TMC is questioning who is behind blocking of these programs and whether pressure is being exerted at the topmost level on the organisers in wake of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. No specific reason has been assigned as yet, why the Chief Minister’s debate was cancelled at the last minute.

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Free Press Journal