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Mamata dumps Cambridge after agreeing to deliver lecture

Last updated on: October 12, 2010 08:49 IST

Mamata dumps Cambridge after agreeing to deliver lecture

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Saubhadra Chatterji in New Delhi


Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has again displayed a mercurial mind. Months after keeping the University of Cambridge, UK, waiting for an answer to its invitation to deliver a lecture and then saying she'd come, she's decided not to go.

While, arch-rival Prakash Karat, CPI(M) general secretary, takes a flight to London to deliver a lecture at the same university.

Banerjee was scheduled to give a lecture on the topic of 'The Rising Power' at the invitation of the Cambridge-India Partnership unit.

The subject would have allowed her to speak about her own rise as the chief opposition party in the communist bastion of West Bengal.

But she changed her mind, after reports appeared that the CPI(M) chief was also going there to deliver a lecture, three days before Banerjee's slot.

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Image: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Photographs: Reuters
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The official reason given by Banerjee's Trinamool Congress is: "There is political unrest in West Bengal and Trinamool party workers are regularly getting killed by CPI(M) goons. In these circumstances, it is not possible to go to Cambridge."

An amused Karat told Business Standard, "My tour has nothing to do with any programme of the University. There will be a memorial seminar on Victor Keirnan, the noted Marxist scholar, organised by some of his followers. A hall in the University campus has been booked as the venue of the seminar."

When told Banerjee had cancelled her programme, Karat said, "I will be definitely going to Cambridge. We have been preparing for this seminar for the past six months."

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Image: CPIM(M) general secretary Prakash Karat.
Photographs: Reuters
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Banerjee's invitation was pending for almost 10 months before she finally gave a green signal to the organisers in Cambridge.

She was supposed to interact with students and deliver the lecture at the 800-year-old prestigious university on October 25.

Karat will be delivering a lecture on 'Victor Kiernan and the Left in India' at a seminar in memory of Victor Gordon Kiernan (1913-2009) on October 22.

The British Marxist historian was not only Karat's professor at Edinburgh University but "was also a member of the undivided Communist Party and spent many years in India", Karat told Business Standard.


Photographs: Reuters
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