Slamming the BJP-RSS, The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday alleged that "pressure was mounted" on the organisers to cancel a programme in Chicago in the US on the occasion of 125 years of the historic address by Swami Vivekananda, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was invited.
The TMC alleged that the BJP-RSS wanted only one major programme to be held in Chicago on that occasion.
"Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago, on the occasion of 125 years of the historic address by Swami Vivekananda, had invited Mamata Banerjee to attend a programme in Chicago. The Chief Minister of West Bengal confirmed her participation to them," TMC's chief national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said in a statement.
"Subsequently, it is learnt, that under 'tremendous pressure', the organisers were prevailed upon to cancel the programme. It is common knowledge that the BJP-RSS wanted only one major programme to be held in Chicago and that would be under the banner of the Global Hindu Congress (World Hindu Foundation) and this programme would be attended by Mohan Bhagwat," the statement added.
It further said, "To ensure this happened, intense pressure was mounted on Vivekananda Vedanta Mission in Chicago to cancel the programme."
O'Brien also termed the External Affairs Ministry's statement on the issue as "low-on-fact argument".
Banerjee had on Tuesday said, "I wanted to go to Chicago.... I could not go there because of an unholy conspiracy hatched by certain people. This incident has given me a lot of pain."
The statement also carried an official statement from the US Consulate General, Kolkata released at the time. It read, "“The US Consulate General in Kolkata is pleased to hear that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is interested in visiting the United States as there have been no visits by a Chief Minister from West Bengal in many years. The Chief Minister’s visit would be a good opportunity for her to highlight the possibilities in the economic and trade relationship with the United States and to experience America first hand. At this stage there have been no discussions with the U.S. Consulate General regarding the Chief Minister’s possible visit.”
The External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday dismissed the reports that Banerjee was denied permission to visit Chicago to attend the World Hindu Conference.
Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the government did not receive any request for clearance for her visit. "We did not receive any request for clearance regarding the visit of Mamata Banerjee to Chicago for the event. The reports about the denial of permission are, therefore, not true," he said in response to a question.