West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not attend the swearing-in of the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministers although an invitation to the Trinamool Congress leader generated much hype amid speculation of her warming to the idea of an alternative front floated by regional parties at the national level.
On Sunday, the Trinamool leadership cited “parliamentary protocol” as the reason for Ms. Banerjee choosing to stay back in the city and not attending the ceremonies. All-India general secretary Mukul Roy told The Hindu that she would have to be present in the Assembly on March 15, when Governor M. K. Narayanan addresses the House to mark the start of the budget session.
The Trinamool has, however, decided to depute party representatives to the functions.
Strong reaction from Congress
Earlier, reports that she would participate in the events drew a strong reaction from senior Congress leaders in New Delhi.
Party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told a news agency that “social interactions with strangers” was acceptable, but “obviously if things go beyond the normal boundaries of social courtesy, it would become immoral.”
Ms. Banerjee's visit, particularly to Punjab, was reported to have featured at a meeting between her and All-India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed here on Saturday.
The Congress was keen on her not attending the swearing-in of Parkash Singh Badal as he belongs to the Shiromani Akali Dal, an NDA constituent.
Ms. Banerjee has joined forces with non-Congress Chief Ministers in opposing the Centre's move to set up a National Counter Terrorism Centre on the grounds that it infringes the powers of States.