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St. Stephen’s says no to Mamata Banerjee event but Trinamool says she’ll still visit Delhi

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Trinamool spokesperson Derek O’Brien says Banerjee will address the Catholic Bishops Conference of India in Delhi Tuesday.

New Delhi: Delhi’s premier St. Stephen’s College has triggered a political controversy by refusing permission to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to address its students, apparently without giving any reason.

Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party is upset by the decision and has hinted that the BJP could be behind it. But it also said she could not be silenced and her visit to the national capital was on schedule next week.

Banerjee is at the forefront of attempts to build an opposition alliance to take on the Modi government in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“First, the Vivekananda event in Chicago. Then her China visit and now St. Stephens, Mamata Banerjee is giving BJP-RSS sleepless nights. Let them keep trying, she cannot be silenced,” Trinamool MP and spokesperson Derek O’Brien told ThePrint, referring to earlier events of Banerjee that had to be called off.

“The Bengal CM’s trip to Delhi is on schedule. She will be chief guest at the ‘Love Your Neighbour’ conference organised by India’s largest Christian body, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, on 31st July at 2.30 pm,” he added.

The Bengali Literary Society of St. Stephen’s had invited Banerjee to speak at the college on 1 August and Banerjee’s office had consented. But it received a letter Friday afternoon informing that the event had been cancelled.

Principal John Varghese refused to comment when reached by ThePrint. But a senior professor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “internal issues” had led to the cancellation.

A source in the college said that members of the Bengali Literary Society had written to the principal seeking his permission to invite Banerjee. Expecting that the permission would not be denied, they invited Banerjee, only to see permission being denied.

“Members of the Bengali Literary Society organise events where they invite eminent personalities to give a talk and this was one of such event but it had to be cancelled because the principal denied permission,” said the source.

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