Mamata Banerjee won't attend Modi's swearing-in, says BJP using occasion to score political points

WION Web Team Kolkata, West Bengal, India May 29, 2019, 02.37 PM(IST)

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Earlier on Tuesday, Banerjee had said that she has accepted the invite to attend the ceremony.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is not going to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief announced her decision in a tweet on Wednesday, accusing the BJP of making false claims about political violence in Bengal.

"It was my plan to accept the constitutional invitation and attend the oath-taking ceremony. However, in the last one hour, I am seeing media reports that the BJP are claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue," Banerjee said in her statement posted on Twitter. The tweet accompanying the statement reads, "The oath-taking ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party."

These deaths may have occurred due to personal enmity, family quarrels and other disputes; nothing related to politics. There is no such record with us. So, I am sorry Narendra Modi ji, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony, Banerjee further said in her statement.

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The BJP lost many workers in panchayat, local body and parliamentary elections in West Bengal during election-related violence. Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah repeatedly highlighted the issue at the rallies they addressed.

Fifty four special guests, besides leaders from BIMSTEC countries and a host of celebrities and politicians, would be attending the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Council of Ministers on Thursday. The Prime Minister has specially invited family members of BJP workers who were killed in incidents of political violence in West Bengal over the past few years, a senior BJP leader said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Banerjee had said that she has accepted the invite to attend the ceremony. "I have spoken to other Chief Ministers also. Since it is a ceremonial program, we thought of attending it. Yes, I will go," she told media in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Banerjee had indulged in a war of words with Modi during the campaign period in the run-up to the elections, in which the BJP has made deep inroads into the Trinamool territory in West Bengal by winning 18 Lok Sabha seats out of 42. The TMC's victory was reduced from 34 in 2014 to 22 in 2019.

Modi will be sworn in for a second term as the prime minister on Thursday at 7pm in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, along with members of the Union Council of Ministers.