'Nationwide' bandh but only in Bengal

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 10.12.06
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Calcutta, Dec. 10: Your travel may be hassle-free anywhere in the country on December 14, but if you are planning to take a train or plane from Bengal, trust your stars.

For, CPM labour wing Citu virtually made it official today that though it is a “nationwide” strike, it will be enforced mainly in Left-ruled Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.

Citu state president Shyamal Chakraborty today sent letters to railway minister Lalu Prasad and civil aviation minister Praful Patel, asking them to cancel trains and planes to and from Bengal and warned of a “total shutdown” in Bengal on Thursday.

The central Citu leadership has not written to the Union ministers, for the simple reason that the Left’s influence is limited to Bengal and the two other states.

The truth was spelt out by Basudeb Acharya, the CPM leader in the Lok Sabha and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on railways. “The impact of the strike will not be same in all states,’’ Acharya said.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who had earlier opposed bandhs and assured the IT sector normal life on bandh day, kept mum when asked about the Citu’s letters.

In his letter to the railway minister, Chakraborty said: “Surface and river transport would not ply and shops and establishment would remain closed.”

“Without appropriate linking transport and food”, train passengers would be “in great difficulty”, he added.

The Citu leader wanted railways to announce the suspension of train services in Bengal “right now so that the passengers are kept aware of the situation well in advance”.

In a similar letter, the civil aviation minister has been asked to cancel all flights to and from Calcutta and Bagdogra airports.

Private sector airliners have been informed about the bandh called by the Left unions to oppose the “Centre’s anti-labour policies” and asked to suspend operations in Bengal accordingly.

“In the past, we found that passengers of long-distance trains are at the receiving end on such days. As workers of all other forms of mass transport in the city and the state will be on strike, we have informed the railways and airlines in advance to make it clear that we do not want passengers to suffer,’’ Chakraborty said.

“I am concerned about Bengal,’’ he said when asked why the union’s central leaders did not write to the Union ministers.

Citu general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar said passengers would be held responsible for trouble if they venture out of home on bandh day.