Mamata on first visit to Delhi in two years, meets Modi, seeks more vaccines

Published : July 27, 2021 21:11 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during their meeting in New Delhi on July 27. Photo: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27 for the first time after the Assembly election in the State in which her party, the Trinamool Congress, registered a huge victory, its third in a row. In her first visit to the capital in two years, Mamata Banerjee also met top Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Anand Sharma, and is scheduled to meet Sonia Gandhi on July 28.

Addressing the media after a 30-minute meeting with the Prime Minister, Mamata Banerjee said, “After returning to power for the third time with the blessings of the people, I did not have an opportunity to hold an individual meeting with the Prime Minister and the President. This is a courtesy visit. This is a protocol as per our Constitution and I am following it.” She also asked Modi for more COVID vaccines and medicines. “I have no objections to other States getting COVID vaccines and medicines, but given the population in my State, we have received much less than many other States. Our vaccination process is very good, and the rate of the spread of COVID is around 1 per cent in the State, but we want the medicines and the vaccines before the third wave hits us,” she said.

During the meeting, Mamata Banerjee also broached the topic of the proposed change of name for Bengal. In 2016, the State government had proposed that the State’s name be changed from West Bengal to Bengal (in English) and Bangla (in Bengali). Subsequently, the government settled for one name, Bangla. A resolution for the name change was passed in the State Legislative Assembly in July 2018 and since then the matter has been pending with the Centre.

Mamata Banerjee, after her recent call for a unified opposition to defeat the BJP at the Centre, had made it clear that one of the main reasons for her Delhi trip was to hold meetings with opposition leaders. Before meeting Modi, she had met Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Anand Sharma. On July 21, in her Martyrs’ Day speech she asked parties opposed to the BJP to set aside their “self-interest” and work on forging a front against the saffron party. “Lok Sabha is still some time away, but planning needs to be done…. Automatically parties will leave aside their self-interest and come together,” she said when asked about her plans for the front in Delhi. She also demanded that the Prime Minister call an all-party meeting on the Pegasus spyware controversy and said there should be some kind of inquiry headed by the Supreme Court on the issue.

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