| Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta, Oct. 9: The government will make sure infotech companies work normally on December 14, the day CPM front organisation Citu and other trade unions have called a bandh, just as it did today, the chief minister has indicated.
Will the arrangements be the same on December 14, he was asked at Writers’ Buildings. Walking towards the lift, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee turned around to say: “Of course.”
“It is the same government, the same policy,” the chief minister added a few minutes later when asked the same question in the context of the smooth working of the IT industry during the Mamata Banerjee-called bandh.
Bhattacharjee said that after watching people’s response — to the bandh — he was sure the Tata Motors factory would come up in Singur. “And it will come up as early as possible.”
Although much of the city was shut and transport was thin, other than state buses, auto-rickshaws flying the red flag and some taxis, Sector V was an island of normality, barring the huge police presence.
By making sure Sector V suffered no disturbance, Bhattacharjee put the Citu on notice that he had the same plan for December 14. If that was a silent declaration of intent, the chief minister left no room for doubt with his statement.
“What we want to tell the trade unions is simple,” said a senior bureaucrat, “those who want to report for duty on December 14 in Sector V will have to be allowed entry.”
A year ago, Bhattacharjee had clashed with Citu and a section of the CPM when Citu activists used violence to enforce an industrial strike in Sector V. The clash led to the still-unfinished debate at the policy-making level of the CPM on Bhattacharjee’s proposal to keep 24x7 operations like IT outside strikes.
Citu has so far opposed exempting IT. “We are not aware of the position the chief minister has taken,” said state Citu president Shyamal Chakraborty. “We will unveil our stand on whether to keep the IT sector outside the December 14 bandh only on December 12.”
Conflicting views within the Citu and the CPM came to the fore when Citu state secretary Kali Ghosh contested his president. “Our objective is to involve all sectors in the strike,” Ghosh said.
Efforts are under way to create a face-saving situation where the December 14 strike, planned to protest against the Centre’s privatisation programme and “anti-labour” policies, would be turned into a day-long industrial action confined to old economy sectors like jute and engineering without touching transport and IT.
“We are not in a position to offer a comment on the December 14 event, it is still under discussion,” said state CPM secretary Biman Bose.
This is a debate the CPM central leadership will have to settle.
Bose vowed that the Left “will not call a bandh” on Fridays and Mondays as an “opportunistic section of the people takes advantage of it to have a long weekend. Opportunistic parties like the Trinamul Congress encourage this attitude”.
“I have enquired at Digha, it’s packed with tourists.”