MEA goofs up on Mamata’s US visit
New Delhi, September 13
The Ministry of External Affairs has been left red-faced as it reacted to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to the US that was supposedly never meant to be. The MEA, late on Wednesday evening, issued a statement condemning reports in a section of the media about “denial of permission” to Mamata to visit Chicago to
attend the ‘2nd World Hindu Conference’. “We did not receive any request for clearance regarding the visit for the event. The reports about the denial of permission are, therefore, not true,” said MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar.
The Trinamool Congress today hit out at the MEA for its “low on facts” argument. TMC spokesperson and parliamentary party leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O’ Brien said Mamata was to travel not for the ‘World Hindu Congress’, but for an event by Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago to commemorate 125 years of the historic address by Swami Vivekananda.
While Mamata had “confirmed her presence”, her party claimed the organisers subsequently cancelled the event under “tremendous pressure”. “It is common knowledge that the BJP-RSS wanted only one major programme to be held in Chicago and that would be under the banner of the Global Hindu Congress (World Hindu Foundation), which would be attended by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. To ensure this happened, intense pressure was mounted on the Vivekananda Vedanta Society to cancel the event for which Mamata had confirmed,” said O’ Brien. The party also put out an earlier statement from the US Consulate General in Kolkata to drive home the allegation that the Indian government was against her travelling to America. The US statement had said, “The CM’s visit would be a good opportunity for her to highlight the possibilities in the economic and trade relationship with the US and to experience America first hand.” ‘Sources refused to react to the TMC statement calling it a ‘political one’. Subsequently the MEA put out a fresh statement and with no mention of the World Hindu Congress but maintained that no request was received for clearance regarding visit of Banerjee to Chicago for ‘any event’ whatsoever and so reports of denial of the same hold on ground.’