West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday slammed Congress and the Left Front for alleged violence and vandalism during Wednesday's Bharat Bandh in the state. Road and rail blockades were reported from several parts of West Bengal on Wednesday as trade union activists along with Left and Congress supporters picketed in support of the 24-hour general strike against the Centre's "anti-people" policies.
"In the name of protest, they are destroying public property. This is hooliganism, not agitation. Today as the country reels under an economic crisis, this strike further hurts ordinary people. A peaceful protest is welcomed but violence and vandalism are unacceptable. They think occasional strikes will give them cheap publicity but this is political self-harm," CM Mamata Banerjee told reporters at Gangasagar.
Bangla Chief Minister @MamataOfficial today slammed the Left parties for indulging in violence in the name of enforcing bandh in the State.— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) January 8, 2020
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Taking a swipe at the Left Front, CM Banerjee wondered why the parties didn't hold any agitation in the national capital and instead choose Bengal. She said that the Kerala unit of the CPI(M) is far better than its Bengal one as they maintain an ideology, unlike the latter which only focuses on strikes and brewing instability and violence.
"Why don't they strike in Delhi. Did they hold a rally or a meeting there over what happened in JNU? Bengal is peaceful and now they want to do spark chaos here," Mamata said. "They did nothing for 34 years," she added referring to over three decades of Communist rule in the state, "and now whatever we are building, they are out destroying it like hooligans."
CM Mamata Banerjee asserted that the police will take stern action against those indulging in violence and vandalism. "The police will use proportionate measures to deal with vandalism. I appeal to political parties to peacefully protest." She also stated that her TMC government is in full support of the idea behind agitation and will continue to do so.
As part of the Bharat Bandh, strikers took out rallies in parts of Bengal and blocked roads and railway tracks in the North 24 Parganas district. But police removed them to ensure movement of vehicles without hitch.
In Kolkata, government buses were plying normally but the number of private buses was less in the early hours. Metro services were normal in the city and auto-rickshaws and taxis were also seen on the roads. Heavy police deployment was seen in several areas of the city, including in Tollygunge, Behala, Esplanade and Jadavpur.
In some areas of north Bengal, the Trinamool Congress took out rallies opposing the strike and urged people to maintain normalcy. Around 25 crore workers are expected to participate in the strike called by trade unions INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC along with various sectoral independent federations and associations.