West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she has decided not to attend Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on May 30. “The oath-taking ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party,” she said on Twitter.
Banerjee, who on Tuesday said she will attend the event as “constitutional courtesy”, changed her mind after 54 people related to Bharatiya Janata Party workers who were killed in alleged political violence in West Bengal have reportedly been invited to attend the ceremony. “I am seeing media reports that the BJP is claiming 54 people have been killed in political violence in Bengal,” she said. “This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders in Bengal. 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.”
The chief minister further said: “So I am sorry, Narendra Modi ji, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony...Please excuse me,” she said.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress won 22 out of 42 seats in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, while the BJP raised its tally from two seats in 2014 to 18 this year. The saffron party also gained 40.5% vote share.
Modi has invited leaders from the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC, bloc to the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. BIMSTEC is a regional group comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth have also been invited. Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth also confirmed that he would attend the ceremony.