New Delhi, June 22: Hours before she was to board her flight to China, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cancelled her trip, said media reports on Friday. In a hurriedly called press conference, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra read out a statement that said, “Our Indian Ambassador in China requested time till 12 noon today IST, which is 2.30 pm China time, for a confirmation to the political meetings, as proposed by the Indian Ambassador to the Chinese Authority…It has now been intimated by our Ambassador in China that the political meetings at the appropriate level under the Exchange Programme could not be confirmed. Therefore, the purpose of my visit with a delegation to China under the Exchange Programme is of no use.” (Also Read: Mamata Likens BJP to Militant Organisation)Also Read - THIS State Bans Manufacture, Sale, Distribution of Gutkha, Pan Masala For a Year
Soon, Banerjee started tweeting the sequence of events. She began with, “In March this year, the Union Minister of External Affairs had recommended to me to kindly consider leading a delegation to China in the coming months under the Exchange Programme of the Government of India with the International Department of the Communist Party of China.” She then added that she informed Swaraj that “since the interest of my country is involved, I wish to visit China sometime during last week of June, 2018.” Also Read - West Bengal Witnesses Spike in COVID Cases, Officials Blame Guideline Violation During Durga Puja
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A leading news channel quoted a source within the Secretariat as saying, “Neither the Chinese government nor the Communist Party of China was able to confirm any meeting with the Indian delegation. Repeated changes in programmes and schedule suddenly started popping up barely 48 hours before the team from Kolkata was scheduled to board the aircraft. The chief minister doesn’t think it’s prudent to visit China for leisure, which this was eventually turning out to be in the absence of the political meetings at the government and party levels,” explained a senior official at Nabanna.
Reacting to Banerjee’s last-minute change in plans, BJP MP Rupa Ganguly said, “She claims the Union minister gave her responsibility to go there. Who is she? Don’t we have Union ministers who can go to China? The talks go between two countries, who is she to come in between?”