On Friday, the Foreign Ministry officially informed the Bengal government of its decision, triggering a typical Mamata explosion in which it challenged the Center to “arrest me”.
“I don’t feel like visiting foreign countries, but it was a matter of respect for the nation. This government continues to talk about Hindu interests. But if he really has Hindu interests at heart, why deny India’s sole Hindu representative permission (to go)? She said, pointing out that all the other guests at the event were Christians and Muslims.
“I was going to represent India, it was not a vacation,” Mamata said during her polling campaign in Bhowanipore. “The Italian government gave me special permission. Several heads of state and religious leaders will be present at the event and I was the only Indian invited.
The CM asked why he was banned from going to overseas events “whenever I want to go but all of you (BJP leaders) can travel as you please”.
In 2018, Mamata was denied permission to attend an event in Chicago that was to mark the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s historic address to the World Parliament of Religion. A plan to travel to China before that had to be canceled at the last minute because the Center did not allow him to go.
All official CM overseas travel requires approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mamata’s visit to Rome for the proposed event – “Brotherly Peoples, Future Earth” – was scheduled for October 6-7. The official invitation arrived on July 22, mentioning “his contribution to the cause of social justice and his commitment to the underprivileged and underprivileged,” officials said.
Besides the CM of Bengal, the guest list includes Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Grand Imam Ahmad al Tayyib of al-Azhar in Egypt.
Mamata and Trinamool Congress had similarly reacted to the canceled 2018 trip to Chicago. The CM then qualified the refusal of authorization to travel as “an unnatural plot hatched by certain people”. The organizers subsequently canceled the event. Another program later held in Chicago under a different banner had RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat as a guest speaker.