Mamata claims strike a failure, Left hits back

Kolkata, Sep 2 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday termed the strike called by trade unions a “complete failure”, and lambasted the opposition Left Front for indulging in politics of “disruption”.

Claiming the strike as successful, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front, on the other hand, slammed the ruling Trinamool Congress’ attempts to throttle people’s protest and said it was actually aimed at strengthening its tacit understanding with the BJP.

“At a time when Bengal’s economy is bouncing back, the CPI-M which left the state on the brink of disaster are back with their disruptive agenda to derail our untiring efforts and hard work,” Banerjee told media persons here.

The countrywide strike was called by trade unions and their affiliated labour organisations to press for increasing minimum wage to Rs.15,000, representation to unions in labour reform process and providing wages to contractual workers at par with regular workers.

“The CPI-M is politically bankrupt, and they have developed this habit of calling bandh at the drop of a hat. I thank the people for not succumbing to their provocations,” Banerjee said, claiming that attendance in government offices was 93 percent in the city and 97 percent in the districts which was higher than normal.

Asserting that she was compassionate towards the rights of workers, Banerjee said she always opposed the anti-labour reforms by the BJP-led central government.

“We are also politically opposed to the BJP and I have written several times to the Centre raising objections to labour laws reforms. But that doesn’t mean we need to resort to hooliganism and disruptions.

“When there are issues, there are ways to negotiate, to discuss and protest. If they (Left) are so concerned, why don’t they protest in Delhi, instead of holding the people of Bengal to ransom?” she said.

While the Left accused police of unleashing violence that left a number of its activists and leaders injured, Banerjee claimed police acted in a restrained manner.

She said 974 people across the state were arrested during the day.

Meanwhile, the Left as well as the CITU derided the Banerjee government for its violent tactics to foil the strike.

“Why did the state government oppose the strike called by the central trade unions against the policies of the central government? It is evident Mamata Banerjee is trying to prove herself as a valuable partner and ensuring the Trinamool’s understanding with the BJP is strengthened,” Left Front chairman Biman Bose said.

As many as 17 Left parties, who took out a joint rally in support of strike, condemned the Trinamool government for violent crackdown on the shutdown supporters.

“Despite Trinamool goons and police joining hands to unleash violence, the strike has been successful. The very fact that the Trinamool had to resort to violence is a proof of that success,” CITU state president Shyamal Chakraborty said.

“The shutdown has been successful despite the state government’s violent tactics,” Leader of Opposition and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

In a joint statement, the Left parties declared that they will observe Thursday as ‘condemnation day’ across Bengal in protest.

Incidentally, the Trinamool too will observe the day as ‘condemnation day’ deriding the Left’s “hooliganism”.

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