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Striking MPs save Rs 76000

New Delhi, Feb. 21: Thanks, comrades, you just saved the government Rs 76,000.

Thirty-eight Left MPs today decided to “forego” their daily allowance of Rs 2,000 to express solidarity with the 48-hour strike called by trade unions, saving the government Rs 76,000, but the shutdown led to losses over Rs 100 crore, according to estimates given by industry bodies.

The comrades did not attend the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament on the first day of the budget session. Nor did the 38 — 24 from the Lok Sabha and 14 from the Rajya Sabha — sign the attendance register that would have fetched them Rs 2,000 each.

“All Left MPs struck work today. They did not attend the President’s address and also decided to forego their daily allowance for the day in solidarity with the striking workers across the country,” CPM leader in the Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharia said.

What the MPs unwittingly saved the exchequer was peanuts compared to the loss the strike caused in industrial areas in and around the national capital as most units shut down.

“We have estimated a loss of more than Rs 100 crore in industrial units in Noida. Some 1,200-1,500 industrial buildings have been badly damaged and looted and production came to a standstill in about 70 per cent of the units,” said Vipin Malhan, president, Noida Entrepreneurs Association.

The industrial area of Noida was among the worst hit after large-scale violence on the strike’s first day yesterday. The violence spread fear and many of the 6,200-odd small units that stayed open on Wednesday shut shop today.

In Gurgaon, Haryana, many units, including those of Maruti and Hero Honda, remained shut. “Yesterday, there was no impact of the strike in Gurgaon. But today, most big units and their ancillaries were closed as the workers chose to strike work,” V.P. Bajaj, president, Gurgaon Industries Association, told The Telegraph.

Leaders of the 11 trade unions that had called the strike said the response was “unprecedented”.

“We don’t have registered unions in any of the units in Noida or Gurgaon. Still, the workers responded to our call and stopped work,” said the general secretary of the BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), B.N. Roy.

Asked about the estimated loss, Citu general secretary Tapan Sen said industry houses were not paying taxes worth crores of rupees. “Workers are fighting for their basic rights. We will not sit idle till the demands are met,” Sen said, sitting in the BMS’s office.