Kolkata, April 29: As West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government and the ruling Trimool Congress seemed to be going all out to foil the strike and shutdown called by the Left Front and the BJP on Thursday, the communists have threatened a “war” if the administration tried to thwart the protests.
As the political parties indulged in a slugfest, industrialists complained that the strike and shutdown would not serve any purpose.
With Friday (May 1) being an official holiday in the state on account of May Day (Intertiol Workers’ Day), Thursday’s strike/shutdown would effectively begin back to back five non-working days for government employees and others who have a five-day week. Monday, May 4, is a gazetted holiday on account of Buddha Purnima.
The state government came out with an official memorandum on Wednesday directing government employees to compulsorily report for duty on the day of strike.
“All state government offices including those provided with grants-in-aid by the state government would remain open and all the employees should report for duty on that date (April 30). No leave would be granted to any employee on that date,” read the memorandum.
“The governor has been pleased to decide that absence of employees on that date will be treated as ‘dies non’ (a day which cannot be treated as duty for any purpose) and no salary will be admissible unless such absence is covered by the grounds as mentioned in Fince Department Memorandum,” it read.
Chief Minister Banerjee iterated her call for foiling the shutdown.
“We are ready to compensate anyone for any damage but we will not support any shutdown,” Banerjee said during a programme in badwip in dia district.
“Calling shutdown causes huge losses to economy, the burden of which falls on the public. Strikes are counter-productive. They cause problem. I appeal to you to defeat the disruption,” added Banerjee.
Senior party leaders took out rallies in the city declaring the Trimool will actively oppose the “attempt at disrupting normal life”.
The city and state police, during the day, made public announcements calling people not to participate in the strike, while state transport secretary Alapan Banerjee said measures have been taken to keep transport services normal.
On the other hand, the protesters seemed adamant.
“If the chief minister wants war, there will be war,” state president of Left-backed CITU, Shyamal Chakraborty told media persons here.
The call by the central trade unions for an all-India transport strike on April 30 was transformed into a 12-hour general strike call in West Bengal with the unions as also the Left Front accusing the Trimool of “electoral malpractices” during the recent civic elections.
The BJP has given a separate call for a 10-hour statewide shutdown on the same demand. The Congress has announced it would not oppose the strike.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M), which spearheads the Left Front, termed the memorandum issued by the government “unconstitutiol”.
“This circular is illegal and unconstitutiol,” CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra told media persons. Mishra alleged that Trimool cadres have also been pressed into action to crush the protests. The state’s BJP wing took a dig at the Trimool.
“The chief minister doesn’t have enough confidence in the state administration and the police and thus her partymen is taking to the streets to ensure the strike fails,” state BJP president Rahul Sinha said. The proposed general strike also came under fire from industrialists. “Bandhs, strikes, lockouts and agitations don’t achieve or add to anything and only lead to collapse of the entire system and its working - be it in private, public or government sector, we have to change with the changing time,” said Sanjay Budhia, maging director of Patton group. (IANS)