|(From top:) Mamata, Halim
Calcutta, July 2: Bengal Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim will send an aide to Mamata Banerjees house to invite her to Jyoti Basus 96th birth anniversary celebrations on July 8 in the Assembly.
If Mamata accepts the invitation to next Thursdays event — a big if as her party representative has already decided to stay away — it will hold some symbolic interest as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is also expected to attend.
Another set of arch-rivals may turn up: Prakash Karat and Somnath Chatterjee, whom the CPM boss expelled from the party.
One of the highlights of the programme is the first Jyoti Basu Memorial Lecture. Somnath has been picked to deliver the lecture.
Speaker Halim said he would send the aide to Mamatas residence tomorrow to invite her. I have decided to send my aide to the railway ministers Kalighat home to hand over the invite for the programme. As she is in Calcutta now, it will be a great honour for all of us if she makes it, he said.
If Mamata and Bhattacharjee share the platform, it will be the first time they will be doing so since they met at Raj Bhavan to hold talks on Singur. Then governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi had arranged the doomed encounter.
Trinamuls Partha Chatterjee has already refused to attend the programme. Partha, leader of the Opposition, cited the ruling CPMs alleged state-sponsored terror to stay away. I have been requesting Partha to attend. I again asked him today, Halim said.
Eyes will also be riveted on Somnath and Karat if the CPM chief turns up. We have invited both Somnathda and the CPM general secretary, Halim said.
While Somnath said he would feel greatly honoured to attend the event, Karat is yet to get the invite. I have not yet heard about the July 8 programme in Calcutta since at present I am in Bhopal. I shall take a decision after I come to know about it, Karat said tonight over the phone.
Halim is president of the West Bengal Forum for Parliamentary Studies, which is organising the lecture.
All MPs and central ministers from Bengal and MLAs are being invited. Other guests include Calcutta mayor Sovan Chatterjee and the chairperson of Bidhan Nagar municipality. Both are Trinamul leaders.
Halim is also trying to bring Basus son Chandan and his former wife Dolly to the programme.The government chief whip, Syed Mohammed Masih, expressed hope they would make it to the event. We have invited both Chandanbabu and Dolly Basu. We hope both of them attend, said Masih.
Chandan was not available for comment, but Dolly said she would attend if she was in Calcutta that day. Basus grand-daughter Doyel is among the invitees.