Trinamul Congress legislators stayed away from the inauguration of Sealdah Metro station and extended stretch of East-West Metro by Union minister Smriti Irani on Monday to protest against alleged humiliation meted out to Mamata Banerjee.
Trinamul leaders said the chief minister’s name had not been written in the invitation card and she had been called to the inauguration at the last moment.
“Is this a way to invite the chief minister by dropping an invitation card on her doorstep just hours before the event?” asked state urban development minister and Calcutta mayor Firhad Hakim, referring to an invite that reached Mamata’s Kalighat residence on Sunday evening.
“It was an insult as her name was not mentioned in the invitation card. It was also a humiliation for the people as Mamata Banerjee represents the state,” he added.
The BJP attacked Trinamul over playing politics on an infrastructure project. “The project has happened because of the proactive approach of the BJP government.... Now that the project is complete and people are bound to get benefits from it, Trinamul leaders are playing politics with it,” said former state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.
Irani, the Union women and child development minister, on Monday evening inaugurated the Sealdah Metro station and the extended 2.33 km stretch of East-West Metro from Sealdah to Phoolbagan.
The controversy began on Sunday as Trinamul raised questions over not inviting Mamata to the event and synchronising it with her north Bengal tour.
The invitation cards had names of North Calcutta Trinamul MP Sudip Bandopadhyay and Beliaghata MLA Paresh Pal, along with that of Irani, and were sent to Mamata’s office in Kalighat and mayor Hakim on Sunday night.
“It is a very unexpected way in which our chief minister was invited to the programme. She had a packed day-to-day programme which had been announced a month ago. The organisers should have communicated with the chief minister’s office and got a date from her for the programme,” said Sudip Bandopadhyay, who did not attend the event.
Asked by journalists about the absence of any representative of the state from the inauguration, she said: “I can’t answer why the local MP and MLA were not present at the programme though there were chairs kept for them.”
Trinamul recalled how Mamata, during her tenure as the railway minister in the UPA regime, had played a key role in the roll-out of the East-West Metro railway project.
“Let them (BJP) try to take the credit for the project but people of Bengal know whose effort was behind the new phases of Metro railways. It was Mamata Banerjee who proposed East-West Metro while she was the railway minister. Interestingly, the project was inaugurated by someone who is not even the railway minister,” said Trinamul spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.
1,915 new Covid cases, 3 deaths
Bengal on Monday reported 1,915 Covid-19 infections, 967 recoveries and three deaths. Currently, the state has 24,209 active cases, with 23,576 in home isolation and 633 at hospitals, according to the state bulletin.
Bengal’s case positivity rate stood at 21.29 per cent on Monday when 8,906 samples were tested. The recovery rate was 97.79 per cent and mortality rate 1.04 per cent.
Since the pandemic broke out in 2020, Bengal recorded 20,53,626 cases, of which 20,08,171 made full recoveries and 21,246 died.
So far, 41,45,224 booster doses have been given in the state, 18,124 on Monday. Healthcare professionals have started advocating for a second booster shot for those involved in the field of medicine.