'Can't Stop Me Forever': MEA Refuses Permission to Mamata Banerjee For Italy Event

The MEA has said “the event is not commensurate in status for participation by the chief minister of a state."

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New Delhi: In August this year, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was invited to Rome to attend a world peace conference. The Ministry of External Affairs, however, has denied her permission to attend the meet on the ground that “the event is not commensurate in status for participation by the chief minister of a state.”

The invitation was extended by Macro Impagliazzo, the president of Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic association based in Rome.

Among invitees is German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

After the Union government denied permission to Banerjee, the only Indian to be invited for the event, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Debangshu Bhattacharya took to social media to object to alleged interference in Banerjee’s foreign visits.

“Central government denied permission for Didi’s Rome trip! Previously they’ve cancelled the permission of China trip too. We accepted that decision keeping international relations and India’s interests in mind. Now, why Italy Modi ji? What is your problem with Bengal? Chi!” Bhattacharya wrote.

According to a report in Indian Express, Banerjee, who is campaigning for the Bhabanipur assembly by-election scheduled on September 30, asked, “How many places will you (the Union government) not let me visit?”

“You can’t stop me forever,” she further added.

For the third consecutive time, the TMC returned to power in the assembly polls after winning 213 out of the 292 seats earlier this year. The BJP, which had aimed to win more than 200 seats, could win only 77 seats.

The Italian government mentioned her “significant election victory” and “the important work for social justice, for the development of your own country, and therefore, for peace, which you have been doing for over ten years now” in the invite sent to her. Banerjee was also supposed to deliver a lecture at the event.

Tapas Roy, TMC spokesperson has called this move by the Union government “vindictive politics”.

“This is nothing but vindictive politics. The BJP has suffered a humiliating defeat in the West Bengal elections and is now desperately trying to stop Mamata Banerjee and her growing popularity in whatever way they can. They can’t digest the defeat,” Roy said.