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Mamata Banerjee to skip PM Modi oath after invites to killed Bengal BJP workers’ kin

Please excuse me, writes Mamata Banerjee in a note to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter after invites were sent out to families of BJP workers killed in Bengal violence

india Updated: May 29, 2019 17:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee(AP file photo)

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has cancelled her plans to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on Thursday after invitations were also sent to family members of over 50 BJP workers who the party says, were killed in Bengal violence. Banerjee took offence to this set of invites.

“The oath-taking ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party,” Banerjee tweeted along with a note addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In this, she contested allegations that BJP volunteers had been killed in political violence in Bengal. “This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders in Bengal,” she said after reports that the BJP was getting family members of its supporters killed in Bengal to Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony.

The invitation was widely read as an attempt by the BJP-led national coalition to highlight political violence in Bengal, a snub to Mamata Banerjee and send a message to the party cadre that the BJP recognized sacrifices by its party workers in Bengal.

Also Read | With invite for families of killed BJP workers, PM Modi sends message to Mamata

The BJP, which had been struggling for a foothold in the state for years, had succeeded in expanding the party across Bengal in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections. The BJP, which had just 2 lawmakers in the 16th Lok Sabha, won an impressive 18 seats in the state. Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress had to take the hit, shrinking from 34 seats in 2014 to 22 seats.

The BJP, which received a 40 per cent vote share in contrast to Trinamool’s 43 per cent, hopes to form the government in the state when Bengal votes in 2021.

Political violence in Bengal has been a recurring theme in the BJP’s narrative during the elections and later, figuring prominently in PM Modi’s victory speeches in Delhi and Varanasi as well.

It was something Mamata Banerjee had reconciled to when the chief minister told reporters yesterday that she treated the oath event as a constitutional programme and would try to join.

“Congratulations, new Prime Minister, Narendra Modiji. It was my plan to accept the “constitutional invitation” and attend the oath taking ceremony,” Mamata Banerjee said in her message.

“However, in last one hour, I am seeing media reports that the BJP are claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders in Bengal. These deaths may have occurred due to personal enemity, family quarrels and other disputes, nothing related to politics. There is no such record with us,” Banerjee said in a tweet.

“So I am sorry, Narendra Modi ji, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony… Please excuse me,” she wrote on Twitter.

First Published: May 29, 2019 14:32 IST