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Delhi strikes Calcutta off Romanian team’s roster

Calcutta, Jan. 14: Romania will open its Calcutta consular office from Mumbai, thanks to the BJP-led government in Delhi.

The external affairs ministry, headed by Yashwant Sinha, has struck Calcutta off the itinerary of a high-level delegation from Romania. As a result, the inauguration of the consulate in Calcutta will now be done from Mumbai.

To be led by President Ion Iliescu, and including a host of senior ministers and bureaucrats and leading industrialists, the team was to spend January 30 in Calcutta.

Opening the honorary consulate of Romania, meeting industrialists, participating in a programme at Calcutta University and presiding over a function to rename Park Street Mother Teresa Sarani crowded the day’s roster.

But in a sudden Delhi decision that has stumped politicians and industrialists in the city, Calcutta has lost out again — this time to Bangalore.

Anil Wadhwa, joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs, said: “The Romanian delegation is coming to India with a business focus. But the programmes lined up in Calcutta were more cultural in nature. Besides, they had expressed an interest in knowing more about what’s happening in the Indian IT industry, and so Bangalore got into the list in place of Calcutta.”

The Romanian embassy steered clear of controversy. “We know that there is very little time left for the delegation to arrive but we are yet to work out the complete itinerary,” said a spokesperson.

In Mumbai, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry have jointly organised a meeting with the Romanian team. Both are bullish about Romania’s role in industries like oil and gas, energy, IT, biotech, machine tools and textiles and feel Bengal could have played a part in some of these.

The business-over-culture line does not wash with many in Calcutta. Somnath Chatterjee, MP and chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, said: “It’s very unfortunate, but I am not surprised. I can’t recall a single instance where the external affairs ministry has requested a foreign delegation to visit Calcutta.”

Industrialists scheduled to meet the Romanian team here were not convinced by Delhi’s explanation either because the visitors were keen on coming to Calcutta.

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