AMID ‘GO BACK MODI’ SLOGANS, PM ARRIVES IN KOLKATA, MEETS MAMATA AT RAJ BHAVAN
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in West Bengal’s Kolkata on Saturday for a two-day visit to take part in 150th-anniversary celebrations of the Kolkata Port Trust.
The Prime Minister was received by West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, Mayor of Kolkata and Minister Firhad Hakim and other dignitaries at the airport.
From the airport, PM Modi took a chopper ride to Race Course, from where he went to Raj Bhavan by road and met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The meeting went on for about 20 minutes.
This was the second face-to-face interaction between the two seasoned politicians after the Lok Sabha polls.
Even before the PM arrived, protests erupted across the state with students of Left group SFI and political parties taking to the streets shouting “Go Back Modi” and burning his effigy.
Student arms of various Left parties, including the CPI-M, affiliated Students Federation of India (SFI) held large gatherings in five points of the city — Golpark and Jadavpur 8B bus stand in South Kolkata, Esplanade in central Kolkata and Hatibagan as also the metropolis’ education hub College street in North Kolkata, displaying posters and banners ridiculing the Prime Minister.
Coming together under the banner “Students Against Fascism”, the protestors, joined by those of the Congress-affiliated Chhatra Parishad, held aloft the tri-colour and publicly read the Preamble to the Constitution as they staged demonstrations in each of the venues.
Black banners, posters and hoardings were dominant at the protests.
During his 21-hour stay, PM would dedicate four renovated heritage buildings to the nation and inaugurate the sesquicentenary celebration of Kolkata Port trust.
The Prime Minister is also scheduled to launch an interactive light and sound show of Rabindra Setu (Howrah Bridge) and go to the Belur Math — global headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission — on his first visit to the state after the Lok Sabha polls.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to be present at the event.
Stringent security has been put in place for the Prime Minister’s tour, amid security forces’ apprehensions of large-scale protests.
There has been a social media campaign with the hashtag #GoBackModi asking people to rally at the airport and also on VIP Road to prevent the prime minister from entering the city, raising speculation that Modi might have to take the chopper route to crisscross the city and outskirts.
Ahead of his visit, PM Modi tweeted he is “excited” to be in the state. He said he is “delighted” to be spending time at the Ramakrishna Mission.
Meanwhile, Mamata is also learnt to have agreed to attend the inaugural programme of the sesquicentennial celebrations of Kolkata Port on Sunday, where Modi would be the chief attraction.
Shipping Minister Mansukh L Mandaviya went to the secretariat Nabanna on Friday evening to invite Mamata for the programme at the Netaji Indoor stadium.
This comes as Mamata has been spearheading massive protests against the Centre on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
Banerjee had called on PM Modi in New Delhi on September 18, a meeting that had also generated much controversy as it came against the backdrop of then state police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Additional Director General Rajeev Kumar fighting court cases against the Central Bureau of Investigation which was seeking his custodial interrogation in connection with the probe into the multi-billion ponzi scam cases.