Mamata appeal to keep life normal tomorrow

Kolkata: Expressing her government`s resolve to keep life normal in West Bengal during the 24-hour nationwide general strike tomorrow, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today warned of steps, including break in service, in case of absence from duty by state employees.

Assuring of steps to keep life normal during the strike tomorrow, Banerjee said that the state government`s measures had been intimated to the Calcutta High Court also. "I will appeal to the people not to respond to the strike and to attend offices as usual as steps have been taken to run trains, trams, buses," she told a TV channel.

"Trinamool Congress will not take to streets tomorrow to counter strike. My government will not allow any forcible closure of shops and offices," she said, asking pro-strike processions not to block roads.

The chief minister asked government employees to attend duty as usual tomorrow, and warned of action, including a break in service as per rules in the event of absence, and asked transport operators to ply vehicles to facilitate passenger movement.

Calling for an end to politics of bandh which causes enormous loss to the state exchequer, Banerjee said, "We also called bandhs when we were in the opposition in the past, but but later realised its futility. We think people have forgiven us for correcting ourselves for calling bandhs which were also rarely."

She said that her government would no longer allow any bandh politics in the state which witnessed state-sponsored shutdowns in the past.

Lashing out at the CPI(M) and Left parties for choosing the "politics of bandhs", Mamata said, "They have taken up the weapon of bandhs as a life-long method in the last 35 years."

Asking why the strike sponsors (11 central trade unions) converted the industrial strike into a general strike, she said, "It is proven that strikes and bandhs had caused colossal loss to the state exchequer in the past…We in the government only know how difficult it is to run a government with an empty exchequer."

"Since we took over reins of the state, not a single paise assistance came from the Centre. Except us, none would have dared to run a government in such a critical financial condition when payment of salary, pension, widow pension would have been stopped and welfare measures would have taken a backseat," Banerjee said.

"While our state`s revenue from tax collection is Rs 21,000 crore, we have been paying interest to the Centre to the tune of Rs 22,000 crore on the outstanding debt of Rs 2.03 lakh crore," she added.

The chief minister said she was assured by retail traders as also unions in railways and transport operators of keeping life normal tomorrow.

Banerjee said that the strikes had negative impact on the state`s economy "and it is widely felt everywhere". "Strikes give rise to violence and destruction," she said listing her government`s decision to counter strike and ensure law and order and peace.

"Strikes and bandhs are expressions of frustration and it serves only vested interests," Banerjee said.

The chief minister said that no government can sponsor any strike, unlike the Left Front in the past, and their democratic government would prefer the path of development to serve the people.

Referring to the recent Brigade Parade Ground rally by the CPI-M in the city, Banerjee said, "The party spent several crores of rupees earned from the loot of the exchequer."