If former railway minister Lalu Prasad gave lectures in Wharton and Harvard, can Mamata Banerjee be far behind?
After dilly-dallying for a respectable number of months, the Trinamool Congress chief agreed to deliver a lecture on India as a rising economic power at the prestigious Cambridge University.
Unlike her largely extempore and fiery political speeches in India, most of them targeting the ruling Left front government in West Bengal, the talk in England is likely to be more carefully worded, and the railway minister is reportedly taking notes late into the night to prepare herself.
"Mamata Banerjee has agreed and responded positively to the invitation of Cambridge, which was pending since a year," the minister's personal assistant Ratan Mukherjee said.
"We have told the university that she will be available from October 25 to 28 to deliver her speech there. The university will fix a date and get back to us."
Sources close to her indicated that her stand against forcible land acquisition for industrial purposes, and how that catapulted her into the political centrestage after successive electoral victories since 2007, would get prominence in the speech.
"Congress President Sonia Gandhi, too, supports Mamata Banerjee's stand that there should not be forcible land acquisition for industry and that proper compensation package be given to the farmers," said a Trinamool leader close to Banerjee.
He said, "This will definitely be the development model that she has decided to showcase in Cambridge. Our leader's opinion is that industry and agriculture should go hand in hand."
The railway minister also plans to raise the issue of the plight of tribals in Maoist-affected Lalgarh and the kind of developments required in tribal-dominated areas, the Trinamool leader added.
She will also inaugurate a new faculty in the university. This is the first time during her stint as railway minister that she has agreed to visit a foreign country.