Amidst the raging issue of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal’s Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar are expected to share the stage with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) event on Sunday.
Modi is visiting Kolkata to inaugurate a few historical structures which have been restored and kick start the 150-years’ celebration of KoPT.
Mamata, an ardent critic of Modi and his party, the BJP, has been extremely vocal in opposing CAA and has vowed not to implement it in her state. Modi, on the other hand, has also been criticising Banerjee on several grounds including corruption and law and order issues, while the governor has also been a strong critic of the Banerjee government.
“Prime minister, Narendra Modi, the governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and chief minister Mamata Banerjee will be inaugurating the 150-years’ celebration of KoPT. I am going to the state secretariat (Nabanna) to invite Banerjee to attend the event”, Mansukh Laxmanbhai Mandaviya, union minister of state for shipping with independent charge, said here.
Mandaviya has already invited Dhankhar.
Sources said Mamata may meet Modi on Saturday itself before the event.
The development is a significant one as Modi and Banerjee, who has been taking digs at each other for the past 5-6 years, had not shared a public platform with each other in recent times.
Mamata has also decided to skip Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s invitation to attend a meeting of like-minded opposition parties on Monday to come up with a joint action plan against CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The political situation in the country, post the students’ protests is also part of the agenda.
The chief minister has been supporting students agitating against CAA as well as sent delegations to Uttar Pradesh to stand by the families of those who died in alleged police firing there. The state BJP unit, on the other hand, had mounted its opposition against Mamata alleging her party’s involvement to be behind the violence with rocked West Bengal just after Citizenship Amendment Bill became an Act.
Mandaviya said that the Centre has no problem if the state government goes ahead with its plan of coming up with a deep sea port at Tajpur, which has been one of the debated issues between the Centre and the state.
The state initially aligned with KoPT to come up with a deep sea port either in Sagar Islands or Tajpur. However, later the state government decided to go ahead with the project alone and KoPT, which is under the union shipping ministry, was left behind. Sources said KoPT has been interested to be a partner for the deep sea project.
“We are absolutely fine if the state government decides to go alone for the deep sea port project. We will cooperate with the state whenever and wherever necessary. Whether we build it or the state does, it will benefit the country after all”, Mandaviya said.
The Centre has also decided to come up maritime museums in every major port across the country to host the naval history of India, dating back around 5,000 years.
Also, the Centre has identified Mumbai, Goa, Cochin, Chennai, Mangalore, Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata as potential destinations for cruises. The first riverine cruise is expected to be started from KoPT.