July 24: The Congress arranged an airlift for Mamata Banerjee to Delhi tonight as Pranab Mukherjee was keen that she should attend tomorrow’s ceremony at which he will take oath as President.
Calcutta airport sources said the chief minister took off at 8.07pm in a Gulfstream V aircraft. “The private aircraft arrived from Mumbai around 6pm,” said an official.
From the airport, she drove straight to Mukherjee’s 13 Talkatora Road residence.
Trinamul sources said the plane that ferried Mamata to Delhi was arranged by the AICC. The chief minister had to attend a government event in Calcutta this evening in memory of Uttam Kumar, because of which she could not take a commercial flight.
“Pranab-babu was very keen that Mamata-di attend the swearing-in,” a Trinamul MP said.
Mamata was accompanied by actor Mithun Chakraborty, learnt to be Mukherjee’s special guest and the only member from Bollywood to be invited till this evening to tomorrow’s ceremony. Mithun, sources said, had been personally invited by Mukherjee.
Mamata may briefly meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the ceremony. Sources said the aircraft was expected to fly Mamata back to Calcutta tomorrow itself.