KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she is not going to the Vatican City as part of an official government delegation to attend the canonisation of Mother Teresa, but as a guest of the Missionaries of Charity.
“I am not part of any official delegation by the Government of India, but as a guest of my sisters from the Missionaries. So I will not sit in the front seat, but will be very happy to sit beside my sisters and brothers from the Missionaries,” Ms Banerjee said after unveiling a statue of the late legendary nun at the Archbishop’s house.
The Chief Minister was invited to attend the sainthood function at Vatican on September 4 by Sister Prema, superior general of the Missionaries.
The official Indian delegation will be led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and also include Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, besides a host of other dignitaries.
“When Sister Prema invited me, I accepted it immediately and I never asked who is going and who is not, whether it is official or not,” Ms Banerjee said.
Recalling an old incident when she was an Minister of Parliament, the Trinamool supremo said one night she got a call from Teresa seeking help from hooligans who were trying to capture one of her homes.
“I called all my boys and girls and saved that institution from disaster,” she said, adding during flights she had heard Mother Teresa telling the crew many times not to waste any food and send it to her home for the poor.
“She worked for the downtrodden people. Everybody will remember her vision, dedication and action for generations to come,” she said.
Ms Banerjee said the state was proud that the Nobel laureate and Bharat Ratna awardee worked all her life in Kolkata. The Chief Minister also announced that a space in Rajarhat has been alloted for building of a guest house for the Archbishop’s House.
The All India Minority Forum and Mother Teresa Memorial Peace Committee organised a programme at Mother’s House here to mark the 16th birthday of the Roman Catholic nun.
Committee chairman Idris Ali demanded that an airport, two railway stations and one hospital be named after Mother Teresa.