The city’s business community described the Left Front’s decision to lock horns with the judiciary by holding a massive rally on October 8 as “a retrograde step” at a time when the state is desperately trying to shake off an “overriding black image”.
An industrialist, who refused to be identified, said the Left Front’s move was aimed at taking the judiciary head on. “It’s going to be a show of might on the streets of the city. The Left Front is trying to prove that it is above the law by breaking it. The victims of this war between the judiciary and the Left Front would be the people of the city,” he added.
“There is scope for expressing dissent in every democratic country. Justice Amitava Lala’s order did not seek to smother people’s right to protest. It disallowed expression of dissent in ways that disrupt normal flow of life and business,” said Dipankar Chatterjee, former chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) for the eastern region.
“It’s unfortunate that the Left Front has chosen to flout the high court order. We have suffered long enough from an overriding black image, and were trying to pull ourselves out of its shadows. The ruling coalition’s proposed rally will certainly not help the state,” he added.
Stating that the proposed move to take on the judiciary is completely uncalled for, Nazeeb Arif, secretary general of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), said: “The political parties, especially the ruling coalition, should have acted responsibly. A recent survey conducted by the ICC showed complete unanimity amongst businessmen in the city on shifting political rallies to weekends. Understandably, the business community welcomed Justice Amitava Lala’s order.”
“And Bengal is not the first state to restrict rallies that disrupt traffic and life in the city on weekdays. A couple of states in the south have had similar rules for quite some time. The Left Front’s move to take on the judiciary will not affect investment decisions overnight, but it will certainly damage the image of the state. When people think of investing in Bengal, it is the image of the state that matters,” Arif added.
Echoing Arif, regional director of CII, Amitabh Khosla, said: “This is a retrograde step. We had welcomed the high court order restricting rallies that disrupt life in the city — it was a progressive step that would have benefited the people of the city.”
When contacted in Kuala Lumpur, Sanjay Budhia, chairman of CII for the eastern region, denied comment. “Justice Amitava Lala’s order was widely welcomed, but I would not be able to comment on the issue until I have returned to the city,” he said.
“The Left Front’s decision is not in sync with its efforts to cut down on militant trade unionism in the state. This is militancy in itself,” remarked a businessman on condition of anonymity.