Mamata, Stalin at G20 dinner raise eyebrows

Update: 2023-09-11 16:29 GMT
US President Joe Biden being greeted by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin as Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on during the G20 dinner, in New Delhi, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is also seen. (PTI Photo)

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin attending the dinner hosted by President Droupadi Murmu in honour of the dignitaries attending the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi on Saturday has caused the raising of some eyebrows in the State and also at the national level since many of the Chief Ministers in the Opposition camp had given the event a slip.

In West Bengal, their Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s presence at the dinner triggered a war of words between her party, the Trinamool Congress, and the Congress. Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, a Congress MP, wondered if Banerjee attending the dinner would not weaken her stance against the Narendra Modi government.

Nothing would have happened if she had not attended the dinner, the sky would not have fallen, the Congress MP said, triggering an angry response from the TMC, whose MP Santanu Sen said that Choudhury would not decide what event the Chief Minister attended as part of protocol.

Among the other Chief Ministers of the national Opposition camp who were present at the dinner were Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Himachal Pradesh’s Shukhvinder Singh Sukhu and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar came under attack after a photograph of him with Narendra Modi at the dinner appeared on social media.

Since Nitish Kumar had not met the Prime Minister after he broke away from the NDA and formed the Mahagathbandhan more than a year ago, people started speculating on his future course of action. His participation was a message to both the NDA and the Opposition INDIA coalition, former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said.

Prominent Chief Ministers who kept away from the dinner were Chhattisgarh's Bhupesh Baghel, Rajasthan's Ashok Gehlot, Odisha's Naveen Patnaik and Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal.  

In Tamil Nadu, the murmurs against Stalin’s participation were muted as none of the leaders in the State wanted to take a strident stand against the DMK at the moment. Even the Congress, whose national president and leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, was not invited for the dinner did not come out openly against Stalin.

Official sources said that Stalin had left for Delhi only after ascertaining that other Chief Ministers like Mamata Bannerji were attending the dinner, while many others feel that he could have avoided going to Delhi.

Sources in the Opposition AIADMK said that their general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami was indeed invited for the dinner but decided to give it a skip after it was made known that Stalin would be attending it. Though Palaniswami was very much an ally of the BJP, he felt that he might not get the due importance in the presence of the Chief Minister, sources said. 


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