The Trinamool Congress claimed Saturday that an event at St Stephen’s College, where the party’s president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was invited to speak, has been cancelled due to “pressure from a Union minister”.
Banerjee’s office received an email Friday from the Planning Forum, a students’ body at the college, stating that the event scheduled for next week was cancelled due to “inadequate infrastructure”.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said, “This was fixed nearly six weeks ago. She (Mamata Banerjee) got a letter from St. Stephen’s College, saying ‘Please come’, and was asked to select any date. She agreed to the students’ request and chose the date since she was scheduled to visit Delhi.
But at 3.20 pm on Friday, they wrote to her, making some silly excuse about inadequate infrastructure and not having a hall.” O’Brien alleged, “It is clear that this is under pressure from a Union minister.”
The TMC MP said the primary reason for Banerjee coming to Delhi was to attend the ‘Love Your Neighbour’ conference of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, the apex decision-making body of the Indian Catholic Church. At the conference, to be held at Constitution Club on July 31, Banerjee will speak about “growing concerns of intolerance towards minorities”.
Banerjee, who is reaching Delhi Monday, is also scheduled to visit the Parliament to meet and invite leaders for a joint-Opposition rally at Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolkata.
St. Stephen’s College Principal John Varghese and Bursar Renish Abraham did not respond to calls and text messages from The Sunday Express seeking comment. Karan David, president of Planning Forum, declined comment.
Sources in the college faculty told The Sunday Express that the “principal cancelled the lecture at the last moment”.
“The principal said he was not kept in the loop about the event. In the last one year, the college has switched to a centralised online system of seeking permission for organising such events. The principal felt that proper procedure wasn’t followed in this case,” sources said.
Sources close to Banerjee said she had planned to speak “about the nation and its secular roots” at the college. “It is likely that she will now refer to this cancellation in her speech on July 31,” sources said.