Mother Teresa, seen in her hospital around the time she was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress.(Mark Edwards/Getty Images)
Mother Teresa, seen in her hospital around the time she was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress.(Mark Edwards/Getty Images)

Vatican calling: Politicians make beeline for Mother of all junkets

Mother Teresa will be anointed a saint on Sunday and India’s politicians are in a mad dash to travel to at the Vatican to witness the historic event, most of them possibly at public expense.
Hindustan Times | By Vishal Kant and Dhrubo Jyoti, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 04, 2019 02:53 PM IST

Mother Teresa will be anointed a saint on Sunday and India’s politicians are in a mad dash to travel to the Vatican to witness the historic event, most of them possibly at public expense.

At least a central minister, two chief ministers, a number of politicians and civil servants will travel to the Holy See to witness the canonisation of Mother Teresa.

The list of visitors include leaders from West Bengal, Delhi, invitees from Mother Teresa’s organisation, Missionaries of Charity, and possible leaders from states with big Christian populations such as Kerala or Goa.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj will lead the official Indian delegation, whose composition is unknown. But the decision has already angered Sangh Parivar, which views the Albania-born Mother Teresa as a missionary who came to India to convert Hindus.

But the biggest share of invites appears to have gone to Mother Teresa’s adopted home state, West Bengal.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, her party leaders Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien, state chief secretary Basudeb Bandyopadhyay are among those going. Sister Mary Prema, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity will accompany Banerjee. Five top nuns are also going to the Vatican.

Senior sources in Roman Catholic Diocese of Kolkata told HT that the Bengal politicians are going as guests of the Missionaries of Charity, which refused comment.

Surprise visitors are Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, his private secretary Bibhaw Kumar and public works minister Satyendra Jain. Sources said the city government will bear the expense of their trip but the costs are not known. Both Kejriwal and Jain are going to the Vatican on a personal invite from the Missionaries of Charity.

Delhi chief secretary KK Sharma and Jain’s secretary DC Goel were also supposed to go but the request was turned down by lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, sources said.

Two special invitees of the Vatican are Mother Teresa’s cardiologist AK Bardhan and his wife Seba, who treat Monica Besra. Besra was reportedly cured by a miracle attributed to the venerated nun, paving the way for her elevation as a saint.

But that is not all. A number of politicians and religious leaders from Kerala, Goa, the northeastern states and Tamil Nadu – all with substantial Christian populations – are expected to join the delegation.

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