Calcutta, Dec. 16: There is a familiar gleam in the eyes of Bengal’s politicians. Sourav Ganguly’s ouster from the Indian team has given them an excuse to do what they do best: shut down the state.
The state’s political parties and some other organisations are toying with the idea of a general strike on December 20 to pressure the cricket board into taking Sourav back into the squad.
The proposal has been mooted by a little-known organisation, the Maidan Sports Welfare Association (MSWA), which has received some tentative support from the Trinamul Congress. Mamata Banerjee realises that the CPM is unlikely to oppose a bandh on the emotive issue.
“We feel that people from all walks of life, cutting across political affiliations, should support the bandh. Our protest should give Kiran More, Greg Chappell and (Rahul) Dravid sleepless nights,” Trinamul MLA Sadhan Pande thundered.
Though the CPM has not taken a stand, an emotional outburst by the chief minister has raised the pitch of the protest campaign.
“Sourav’s ouster from the team is an act of injustice. I strongly suspect the practical sense and judgement of those who are behind this decision,” Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said this afternoon at Writers’ Buildings. “It is an insult not only to Sourav, but also for us.”
State Congress general secretary Manas Bhunia said his party might lend support to the bandh if formally approached. “We will support any kind of protest on this issue,” he declared.
Citu president Kali Ghosh evaded a direct answer on whether his organisation would support a bandh, but said the issue was serious enough for a “strong protest”.
The Bengal Taxi Association said it, too, would consider a strike if Sourav is left out of the Pakistan squad. Also, it would ask its various affiliates in the transport sector not to rent out cars to Chappell or More if they ever visit the city.
MSWA official Anjan Nag said: “Initially, we’d decided to suspend only sports. But after the tremendous support we’ve received in our signature campaign, we decided to call a Bangla bandh. We appeal to political parties and sports organisations to participate.”
The chief minister said he had conveyed his feelings to cricket board boss Sharad Pawar. “I was in Delhi when I heard the news. I told Pawar this decision cannot be accepted by anyone under normal circumstances. Let’s see what happens,” he said.
Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, too, has called for a nationwide protest. “Each cricket buff should raise his voice. But I don’t think observing a bandh can change the situation. Our intention should be to force the selectors to change their decision,” he said.
Sourav fans today continued to disrupt city traffic. Manicktala Main Road was blocked for over 10 minutes from 11.20 am and again around 12.35 pm.
Also blockaded were Triangular Park, King’s Way, Strand Road and Bagmari Road. A protest near Bidhannagar railway station hit traffic on Ultadanga Road.