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Bengal Guv ignores China, attends Dalai Lama event

December 3, 2011

The Dalai Lama today termed as “quite routine” Chinese objections to India allowing him a platform to air his views, saying they consider him a “demon” even though his position now is “semi-retired”.

Ignoring Beijing's reservations, West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan was present at a programme on Mother Teresa, which was addressed by the Tibetan spiritual leader.

When asked about the Chinese consulate's letter to the state government to ensure the chief minister and the Governor did not attend the programme, Narayanan retorted, “What do you expect me to do about it? If they have written to the chief secretary, they have written.”

When a reporter pointed out the Chinese consulate had objected to his visit, Dalai Lama said, “This is quite routine. From their point of view, it is also logical. Some Chinese officials consider me as a demon. They raise objections.”

Asked if he expected this reaction from the Chinese government, he quipped, “I have faced this before. I don't want to comment on the letter from the Chinese consulate.”

“In March, I formally, officially handed over the political leadership. I am no longer a leader of the political administration. So, I don't like to politicise my visit here,” he remarked.

While China treats the Tibetan spiritual leader as persona nongrata, New Delhi has maintained he is a respectable religious leader and in a democratic country there is no restriction on freedom of speech.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee could not attend the programme as her mother is in critical condition, according to Trinamool Congress MP Derek O' Brien.

Brien said, “That is the only reason why Banerjee was not here. She would have been here 200 per cent. But her mother is not well.”

The chief minister conveys goodwill to his Holiness not only from the people of Kolkata but also from the people of Bengal, he said.

Speaking at the function, the Dalai Lama said: “I have handed down over four centuries of Tibetan tradition in which the Dalai Lama is both spiritual and temporal head. This I have ended voluntarily, happily, peacefully and proudly.”

“As a refugee community, we are fully utilising democracy. Our administrative leaders are chosen through election. Since 2001, we have achieved an elected political leadership,” he said.

The Dalai Lama also noted the developments taking place in Kolkata.

“From the airport to the hotel, I saw a lot of construction coming up. This is a sign of development. But comfort at the physical level is not sufficient,” he added.

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