The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front to plead with SUCI against bandh

Calcutta, Jan. 20: The Left Front today said it would urge the SUCI to withdraw its bandh of January 27. If the party refuses, the front said it would oppose it.

“There is no need to go ahead with the bandh as the front is organising movements on the basis of some demands made by the SUCI in support of its bandh call,” front chairman Biman Bose said today after a meeting at the state CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street.

The SUCI, however, is determined to stick to its call. Its leader, Manik Mukherjee, said the party would consider the front’s request only if the government fulfilled all its demands.

“Calling a bandh is the democratic right of a political party and bandhs are called to realise popular demands. How can we withdraw the bandh call on the basis of an appeal by the ruling coalition until the government accepts our demands'” Mukherjee said.

When asked why the front and the CPM did not similarly urge the Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS) against observing its bandh of January 10, Bose said: “We consider the SUCI a Left party. We feel the observance of a bandh by any Left party would weaken Left unity and strengthen rightist forces.”

The Front, however, was silent on the issues over which the bandh has been called. According to Bose, the front would launch a statewide movement against the hike in power tariff.

The SUCI has called the bandh to protest the effect of cross-subsidy withdrawal on domestic power consumers.

Domestic consumers would have to bear extra financial burden once the cross-subsidy on power tariff goes. They would also have to pay arrears, at the new rate, with retrospective effect from 2000.

The CPM and the front are worried over the bandh drawing a good response as most of the SUCI’s demands are directly linked with the people’s interests.

Bose said the front would meet on January 28, the day after the scheduled bandh, to discuss the government’s financial crisis. Finance minister Asim Dasgupta is likely to place before the front leaders a report on the crisis and recommend remedial measures.

On February 11, the front will meet all its Bengal MPs to tell them about the government’s financial position. The MPs would be asked to play a more effective role in helping the government overcome the crunch.

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