Left leaders, including Left Front chairman Biman Bose, were arrested from Red Road on Saturday for violating lockdown protocols, prompting many to wonder whether such public display of grievance was necessary less than a fortnight after their meeting with chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Leaders of 17 Left parties, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, stood holding placards to protest on various issues, including improper distribution and black-marketing of ration supplies, along Red Road.
Answering criticism about the need for such protest during the lockdown, CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said the chief minister did not say no to their demands when they met her at Nabanna on April 7. “But those are not being implemented. Even what she is saying at her media briefings at Nabanna is not being implemented on the ground.”
Bose said before his arrest: “The state government isn’t coming clean on the number of Covid deaths. The government is not conducting sufficient Covid-19 tests in Bengal. Our protest is against several shortcomings of both the state and Union governments.”
Many, however, questioned the Left for its street show instead of emulating the Kerala model of all parties coming together to fight the disease.
Responding to the criticism, a Left leader said: “Let the government first emulate the Kerala model in containing the spread of Covid-19.”
The protest that lasted for 15 minutes turned chaotic when the police went to arrest the Left leaders including Mishra, Bose, politburo member Mohammed Salim and Left legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty.