Calcutta, Dec. 1: If an affiliate of the ruling party can thumb its nose at the law, so can Mamata Banerjee.
Trinamul Congress refused to withdraw its December 3 bandh call, slyly hiding behind a technicality, and drew inspiration from the example set by the CPM's labour arm, Citu, which showed how court orders in Bengal can be mocked at.
The Citu's roadshow at noon caused widespread traffic disruptions, though Calcutta High Court had held that the so-called chakka jam was no different from Trinamul's bandh call in its effect on normal life.
Yesterday, the court had asked Mamata to call off the bandh and register the withdrawal in notices in newspapers.
Mamata said she would go ahead with the bandh. 'We shall organise a peaceful bandh on Friday and if I have to go to jail for that, I am prepared,' she announced at a rally.
'If necessary, we may move the Supreme Court to review the high court order.'
Although the undertone of defiance is clear, Trinamul used subterfuge that enabled it to say it had not received the court order.
Since the order was issued to chairman/secretary of the party ' Mamata is chairperson and there are two general secretaries but no secretary ' Trinamul refused to accept it, saying the addressees did not exist.
Trinamul leaders would not say they turned away the messenger, but court sources confirmed the party had declined to accept the order. Mamata had used a similar tactic on several occasions earlier, when summons issued to Trinamul were stonewalled.
A copy of the order was handed over by the government to police to be delivered to Trinamul.
Across the city today, street-corner rallies were being addressed by Trinamul leaders to garner support for the bandh, which suggested the section of the party that had argued for restraint had not succeeded. The rival side cited the Citu-sponsored disruption in support of an aggressive stand.
The court had asked the government to ensure that the chakka jam did not affect traffic, but preventive efforts, if any, proved ineffective.
Still, the administration issued a notice to senior officials to take measures to inspire confidence among people who want to work on December 3.
The notice sought strict compliance with the high court order of November 30 that said the government should make sure transport services operate and cut salaries of employees who do not turn up.
Idris Ali, the petitioner against Trinamul's bandh call, said he would go to court again tomorrow against Mamata and CPM state secretary Anil Biswas for publicly criticising the two-judge special bench's order against the bandh.
Exams on: Calcutta University announced that examinations for medical courses scheduled for Friday would be held.