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Tuesday strike put off
- Citu cites Bharat bandh possibility and offers respite

Calcutta, April 9: The Bengal unit of CPM labour arm Citu today decided not to go ahead with its transport strike on April 13 because another bandh may be round the corner and the party could not risk back-to-back shutdowns close to the crucial civic elections across the state.

CPM state secretariat member and Citu state president Shyamal Chakraborty, who had announced the strike on Wednesday, today said it was deferred in view of a proposed “Bharat bandh” by the Left and other non-Congress, non-BJP parties.

“(While announcing the strike,) we were not aware of the proposed Bharat bandh on price hike and other issues,” Chakraborty said.

Since the party was stung by successive election defeats, its labour arm in Bengal has been cautious about calling strikes that cripple life. Unlike its Kerala and Tripura units, Bengal Citu had not called a strike after the recent fuel price hike. Even the April 13 strike had been decided taking into consideration the fact that board exams would end by April 12.

During a Left Front sit-in outside central government offices yesterday, CPM state secretary Biman Bose had announced the possible Bharat bandh to mount pressure on the Congress-led Centre over price rise.

At its weekly meeting yesterday, the CPM state secretariat discussed the pros and cons of holding two strikes on the same issue and their possible impact on public mood before the polls to over 80 civic bodies, including the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

“It would have been difficult for us to justify two successive strikes,’’ a secretariat member admitted.

According to a CPM state committee member, the party can ill afford back-to-back bandhs. “We will be facing a big test in the end-May municipal polls. We don’t know whether there will be a repeat of the Lok Sabha debacle but we need to guard ourselves properly and go to the people. Given this, going ahead with the transport strike and following it up with a bandh may have alienated a large section of the electorate from the CPM. We need to be cautious at this juncture,” the CPM leader said.

The secretariat had also factored in the troubles that rural people, particularly traders, would face because of the strike two days before the Bengali New Year. “Traditionally, the Bengali business year begins on Poila Baisakh, particularly in rural Bengal. A lot of year-ending activities would have been affected,’’ said another secretariat member.

The Left parties and their allies will meet in Delhi on Monday to decide about the nationwide bandh. Citu will take a fresh call on its transport strike if the bandh is deferred.

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