No bandh in Bengal, says Mamata

CM refuses to support Left and Congress’ nationwide call to strike on January 8

Two days before the all-India general strike called by Left trade unions, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that there would be no strike in Bengal.

Several trade unions affiliated to the Left parties and Congress had called for a bandh against the economic policies of the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP)-led government at the Centre on January 8. Protection of public sector units (PSUs) and increase in minimum wages are included in the demands made by the trade unions. They will also protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Speaking to journalists after an administrative review meeting at Ganga Sagar, the CM said that though she supports the issues, she would not allow any bandh in the State.

‘Poor will suffer’

“There will be no bandh in Bengal. Ever since we came to power, we have not allowed any bandh in the State. What will happen due to the bandh? Thousands of crores will be wasted and the poor will suffer,” she said. Ms. Banerjee said that there were other means to protest and highlight demands, and “not by calling a strike or bandh”.

Earlier in the day, a notification by the West Bengal government had said that “no casual leave for absence either in the first half or in the second half of day or for the whole day or any other leave shall be granted to any employee on the said date”. The notification said that any absence on January 8 will be treated as “dies-non” and no salary would be administered for the said date.

CPI-M ready

Anandi Sahu, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and State general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the labour wing of the party, said that any attempt to forcibly foil the strike would be met with resistance.

“There is no difference between the economic policies of the Narendra Modi government and the Mamata Banerjee government and that is why attempts are being made to foil the strike,” Mr. Sahu said. The CITU leader said that that long march organised by Left trade unions last month, from Asansol to Kolkata, was a success, and that he expects the 24-hour strike will have the spontaneous support of the people.

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