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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Mamata Banerjee decides to skip Modi swearing-in

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  Kolkata/New Delhi, May 23, 2014
First Published: 18:25 IST(23/5/2014) | Last Updated: 01:40 IST(24/5/2014)

In the midst of speculation over the celebrities and politicians who will be on PM designate Narendra Modi’s guest-list for his swearing-in ceremony, the West Bengal government on Friday made it clear that chief minister Mamata Banerjee would skip the ceremony.

Urban development minister and Mamata Banerjee confidante, Firhad Hakim said Rajya Sabha MP, Mukul Roy, and state finance minister, Amit Mitra would attend the swearing in ceremony on Monday.

The BJP has told Rashtrapati Bhavan that over 3,000 people would be on their guest-list.

BJP leaders suggested that celebrities Amitabh Bachchan who was Gujarat’s brand ambassador, Salman Khan and his father Salim Khan who launched Modi’s website in urdu and playback singer Lata Mangeshkar who had faced brickbats from the Congress for praising Modi would be on new PM’s list.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal urban development minister said in Kolkata, “The invitation has reached the state secretariat. Mukul Roy and Amit Mitra would be attending the function in New Delhi on Monday. The chief minister cannot go as she will be tied up with preoccupations.

“Both will represent the Bengal government,” added Hakim, which political circles interpreted as an attempt to tactfully distance the party over the issue.

Hakim, however, could not explain how Mukul Roy, who is the TMC general secretary, would represent the government without being a functionary.

The announcement came on Friday evening, but not without last-minute flip flops, with veteran MP Sishir Adhikari saying that they will stay away from the programme.

“We are certainly not going to attend,” Adhikari said in Midnapore.

Sources within the party stated that the last minute decision came after a prolonged examination of pros and cons both on the party and the government. The realisation that the cash trapped state government will need Modi’s help and co-operation in future seemed to turn the scales in favour of the visit.

Mamata Banerjee has been seeking a moratorium in interests on loans and a special package for her debt stressed state that spends 70% of its revenues on servicing debt obligations. Despite her best efforts she failed to clinch a fiscal relief package from the UPA.

The party also needs to soften its stand on Modi to tackle the CBI probe on Saradha scam where senior Trinamool leader are allegedly involved.


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