‘Destructive’ bandhs are not future: Mamata

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

KOLKATA: Claiming today’s “Left-sponsored bandh” has ‘failed’ in West Bengal for the first time in 35 years, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said ‘destructive’ bandhs were not the future and it ended today.

She said the “total failure” of the shutdown would serve a message to the Leftists in organizing such strikes in future.

“Bandh is not the future of Bengal or for that matter the country. The destructive culture of bandh has ended today.

Let no one have the courage to call a bandh again,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat where an unprecedented 65 per cent attendance was recorded today.

Without naming the CPI (M), she alleged that the party had kept its existence alive through bandhs.

”The manner in which people have responded against today’s bandh, no one will now want to call a bandh. There is no impact of the bandh. It has failed totally with 100 per cent attendance by government employees in most places,” she said.

She claimed markets were open in most places while operations in the port, coal sector and the government mint were normal.

Trains plied normally and in many cases long-distance trains arrived before time. The industrial belts functioned as usual and there was normal agricultural activity all over the state, Banerjee said.

Metro services in the city were also normal, she said adding no flight had been cancelled from the city. “This is a new achievement in work culture.”

She said 50 additional state-owned buses were pressed into service.

“Though private bus-owners are usually reluctant to operate on such days for fear of their vehicles getting damaged, we have assured them that an insurance cover will be provided in such cases,” she said.

Without referring to issues on which the strike was called, Banerjee said, “We did not allow entry of FDI in retail. Whatever commitments we made in our manifesto, we will stick to them. We are opposed to foreign capital in insurance and banking sector.”

She said in some places incidents of damage to buses had been reported and threatened action against those involved in them.

Saying people in other parts of the country spoke derogative of the work culture prevailing in Bengal, she blamed the Left Front regime for the state-of-affairs and promised to restore it.

She claimed the “98 per cent turn-out of employees in the state secretariat” was a pointer of things to emerge in future.

“I am proud of my employees. It was not the employees who are to blame for the lack of culture fostered during the previous regime; it is the leaders (of the Left) who are responsible for this.”

She asserted law would take its own course if there was ‘Goondaism’ to create problems for people in the name of bandhs and claimed without elaboration that the police had acted in places where there were attacks with guns and attempts of arson.

She alleged that there was a “unique combination” of CPI (M), BJP and RSP joining hands in creating problems in one or two places.

Asked what steps would be taken against those who did not report for duty today, she said absenteeism had been reported in two departments and that she would see “what is to be done and all options are open”. -PTI

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