The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trinamul hands off 'force'

Calcutta, Nov. 30: Defiance is present but a little muted after the high court order.

Instead of provoking the CPM to take on Trinamul activists on December 3, Mamata Banerjee's party said this evening that the success of the bandh would depend entirely on the 'people's spontaneous support'.

'Ours will be a peaceful bandh and I want my party supporters not to be provoked by Congress and CPM men who are out to foil it,' Mamata said. She was addressing rallies at Nagerbazar and Behala to drum up support for the bandh.

'The bandh has been called to register our party's protest against the steep hike in petroleum product prices, former chief minister Jyoti Basu's involvement in the Salt Lake land scam, deteriorating law and order and many other vital issues. To call a bandh is our fundamental right and there is no question of giving it up simply because of a court order,' she said.

Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy also said the party would not apply force to make the bandh a success.

'Instead, we want people to respond to the bandh spontaneously. We shall bring out processions without disrupting vehicular traffic. We have no plans to impose it on the people against their will,' he added.

Mamata warned that 'any attempt to foil the bandh will be opposed tooth and nail. We want the bandh to pass off peacefully.'

Arunava Ghosh, Trinamul's legal cell convener, said the court cannot interfere with the activities of political parties if carried out without violence or disturbance. 'If we observe a bandh peacefully, the court can have nothing to say. Can the court address the problem of higher fuel prices' he asked.

The emphasis on words like 'spontaneous' and 'peaceful' is an attempt to keep on the right side of the Supreme Court order which had ruled forced bandhs as illegal. It had, however, also said that force was implied in the words 'bandh' and 'hartal'.

Senior Trinamul leaders met to discuss the party's strategy in the wake of the court order.

It was decided that the party would not adopt an aggressive stand, though until tonight it was sticking to the bandh call. An overtly confrontational attitude might rebound on the party, some leaders felt.

The party would not stop disabled children from coming in a procession to attend a rally on Rani Rashmoni Road on the occasion of World Disabled Day.

Sources said some leaders had suggested to Mamata this morning that the bandh be deferred as World Disabled Day falls on December 3.

'We certainly made a mistake by fixing the bandh date without taking into consideration this fact. If we defer it to Monday, we don't have to make any extra effort to make the bandh a success since people will prefer to keep indoors after two holidays (Saturday and Sunday),' said a Trinamul leader.

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