Calcutta, Sept. 19: CPM leader Surjya Kanta Mishra today said Mamata Banerjee “should support” the Left Front general strike tomorrow as both were opposed to the Centre’s recent moves, the comments coming hours after the chief minister dubbed bandhs “political pollution”.
Addressing reporters outside the Assembly, the CPM politburo member said: “We have called the strike to protest against the hike in diesel price and the decision to allow FDI in retail. The chief minister has announced her intention to withdraw support to the UPA on precisely these issues. Since that is the case, she should support our strike instead of opposing it.”
“We appeal to the Trinamul Congress and the state government not to oppose tomorrow’s strike as it has been called to protest the anti-people policies of the Centre. The shutdown will be peaceful. But if there’s provocation and if somebody tries to create mischief, leading to some undesirable incident, the ruling party and the state administration will have to take responsibility for that,” he added.
Mishra, the leader of Opposition in the Assembly, said the Left “would not enforce” the strike. “We won’t ask shops and establishments to keep their shutters down. Let the people give their verdict by responding to our strike call.”
Yesterday, CPM state secretary Biman Bose had said the Left’s strike call had been vindicated by Trinamul’s decision to withdraw support to UPA II.
Told that the chief minister had yesterday asked the Left not to go ahead with the strike, Mishra said: “We have been protesting against FDI for the past six years. We are against the rise in diesel price or the decontrol of petrol prices. Tomorrow’s strike is a culmination of our movements.”
He said the chief minister’s efforts to persuade the Centre to roll back its decisions had failed. “After the failure of all her efforts, she should now be with us and join the strike tomorrow.”
Earlier in the day, Mamata iterated her opposition to bandhs, saying: “Bandh is not a solution but a political pollution that leads to loss of crores of rupees.”
The chief minister added: “Bengal will be further affected if bandhs are held. Going by the GDP rate or ratio, I can tell you that the state loses Rs 1,737 crore on a bandh day. Taken together, the loss is around Rs 2,000 crore.”
Mamata said that three years ago, her party had decided against calling bandhs. “We have stuck to that.”
“We are transparent. We took a decision three years ago — we were not in power then — that we will not call bandhs…. Bandhs can be the last resort. But in our state, every day there is a bandh or a blockade. I don’t believe in the politics of bandhs. Shops and markets can’t open and vehicles cannot run. We will not supporting tomorrow’s strike. We won’t allow forcible closure,” the chief minister said.