Not a single minister from the Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet or a senior leader of Trinamool Congress turned up for the state government’s massive event on the occasion of International Yoga Day at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday.
The state-backed programme — Yoga Seminar and Practices — received “support” from various organisations but was left wanting in terms of government representation.
Initially hailed as the state’s show of strength to the maiden International Yoga Day, by the evening had turned into an elaborate description of the Bengal government’s “contribution” to this ancient form of exercise. Listing out the state’s contribution was Dr Tushar Sil, Trinamool Congress leader and president of the government’s Yoga and Naturopathy Council.
Even the posters on display read nothing about the international event, which was observed not only in India but across the world. When asked about the absence of state ministers and senior leaders of the TMC, Sil said he was “not authorised to comment”.
“…And so it will not be proper if I did. I have been asked to conduct this programme and I have done it to the best of my abilities.”
On why the state government chose this particular day but did not acknowledge the event associated with it, Sil said: “The day was chosen because it was the longest day of the year; and with all due respect to the Centre’s initiative, Mamata Banerjee has done a lot more for yoga and naturopathy since she became the chief minister of Bengal. She brought yoga and naturopathy in parallel to medical science, and Bengal is the first to take such initiatives in the country. Soon, there will be a four-year course on Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences (BNYS), upon successful completion of which one would be called a doctor.”
Sources, meanwhile, said while state Youth Affairs Minister Arup Biswas and Minister of State for Health Ashish Banerjee were made in-charge of the programme, none turn up. When contacted, Biswas said he was “out of town for some urgent work and thus could not come”.
Banerjee, on the other hand, said, “There was a medical emergency. My nephew is severely ill and I was very busy throughout the day.”
Secretary (Sports) Rajesh Pandey later said: “The programme at the Netaji Indoor Stadium was supported by the state Sports Department and conducted by various other organisations.”