Mamata’s address to Oxford Union cancelled, Trinamool alleges pressure

According to the state government, the Chief Minister was set to begin her online address around 2.30 pm on Wednesday, and around 1.50 pm, the organisers requested that the programme be rescheduled.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s scheduled address to the Oxford Union on Wednesday was cancelled at the last minute after the debating society sought to postpone it citing “unforeseen circumstances”.

Banerjee was set to become the first Indian woman chief minister to address the prestigious debating society, which has hosted personalities such as British PM Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan in the past.

According to the state government, the Chief Minister was set to begin her online address around 2.30 pm on Wednesday, and around 1.50 pm, the organisers requested that the programme be rescheduled.

“Today afternoon, the organisers suddenly sought postponement and rescheduling of the programme at the last moment! The request has been made telephonically from the organisers’ end, citing some unforeseen problems, a brief while ago. The programme with Oxford Union today stands cancelled,” the West Bengal Home Department tweeted.

Offering its “sincerest apologies”, the Oxford Union in an email to the West Bengal government wrote, “Our audience sent a great many questions, and we were all working hard to pull a number of elements together. However, nothing prevails over circumstances sometimes; it seems. I sincerely hope that the Hon’ble Chief Minister will understand and might honour us with her esteemed presence at the earliest possible convenience to you. With your permission, I will pass your details onto my successor, to whom I hand over this Friday.”

According to state secretariat sources, Banerjee was expected to talk about the welfare schemes launched by her government and had received the invitation in July.

“Earlier, the Bengal CM’s proposed visits to China, Chicago, St Stephen’s (College in) Delhi were cancelled at short notice. Who is blocking these programmes? It is learnt that tremendous pressure was put from the topmost levels on the organisers. India’s most respected opposition leader. Elections coming soon! Got it?” the TMC said in a statement.

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