The CPM has taken “serious exception” to CPI minister Nandagopal Bhattacharya’s decision to participate in a roadblock put up on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass by tannery workers of the Tangra-Topsia belt, protesting the government move to arm-twist them to shift into the Bantala leather complex.
The minister for water investigation attended the workers’ protest on Monday and urged them to organise themselves against the eviction. Before Bhattacharya, veteran CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta had also addressed the protesters.
The power lines to the tanneries in the area have been disconnected, under government instructions, and industry minister Nirupam Sen on Monday said that was “a clear signal” for the tanners to move out.
“There is no infrastructure at the newly-built leather complex and it is not possible for the workers to shift there in a hurry. I have told them to oppose the move,” countered Bhattacharya, after visiting Bantala.
When asked about Bhattacharya’s decision to join the workers’ blockade on the Bypass, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said: “Anybody can participate in a movement for a proper cause. The minister, too, enjoys that right and he must have done so because he thought it proper.” Biswas added that Bhattacharya was free to talk to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on the issue.
Biswas reiterated that the state government had constructed the leather complex to honour the Supreme Court order. “We will not do anything to hurt the interests of the tannery workers and all Left Front partners are aware of our policies,” he added.
Nandagopal Bhattacharya, however, insisted that he had not gone to participate in the Bypass blockade. “I had, in fact, gone there to persuade the workers to lift the blockade,” he told Metro. But he insisted that the workers rights “should not be trampled”.