Cancels meeting with Chidambaram; Manmohan expresses regret over Tuesday incident

Angry over the manhandling of her Finance Minister Amit Mitra by Left workers outside the Planning Commission office here on Tuesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday cancelled her meeting with Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. And before leaving for Kolkata by cutting short her visit to the Capital, she said “Delhi is not a safe place.”

Meanwhile, sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Ms. Banerjee and expressed regret over the incident. He also inquired about her health and that of Mr. Mitra. Significantly, after the ruckus outside the Planning Commission office on Tuesday where Ms. Banerjee and Mr. Mitra had gone to finalise the State’s Annual Plan, the Chief Minister had also cancelled her appointment with the Prime Minister citing health reasons.

And on Wednesday, as Mr. Mitra remained indisposed and Ms. Banerjee embroiled in developing situation in her State, she cancelled her meeting with Mr. Chidambaram and a press conference slated for the evening. She then decided to leave for Kolkata.

“Delhi is not a safe place. Today I was supposed to have a meeting with the Finance Minister, but I am returning to Kolkata. I was unwell since last evening and had to be administered oxygen. I will come back, but Delhi is not a safe place ... I am sorry,” Ms. Banerjee told journalists before leaving for Kolkata.

Asked about her telephonic conversation with Dr. Singh over the incident, Ms. Banerjee said: “I had an appointment with the PM, which I could not do it. I apologise for that. He [Mr. Singh] also told me that Mamataji, what happened ... I also apologise to you ... which should not [have] happened and I think that in Delhi ... this is the first time, it is happening.”

Dismissing the Left parties’ charge that Trinamool Congress cadres were targeting their offices across West Bengal, she said: “[There is] no violence [in West Bengal]. Whatever violence [is there] CPI(M) cadre is doing. Our cadres are totally peaceful. They are very emotional … They listen to me.” Meanwhile, Union Ministers Manish Tewari and Kamal Nath condemned the incident and asked political parties to show restraint. “What happened yesterday should be condemned because such behaviour towards Chief Minister of any State is worthy of criticism and I condemn it,” Mr. Nath said.

Rajnath calls up Mamata

BJP president Rajnath Singh called up Ms. Banerjee and also condemned the attack. Demanding a thorough probe into the incident, Mr. Singh said he agreed with Ms. Banerjee’s contention that Delhi was not a safe place. Blaming the Centre for the deteriorating law and order situation in the Capital, he said Delhi was “slipping into a state of anarchy with each passing day.”