Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who described herself as “a military type” when it comes to accepting political challenges, asserted on Monday, albeit in a separate context, that there will be no strike in West Bengal during the two-day, nationwide general strike called by 11 central trade unions later this week.
“Let me clearly state that there will be no bandh (read strike) in West Bengal … If anyone engages in criminal activities, the law will take its own course,” she said, cautioning against any attempt to use force to get people to participate in the strike on Wednesday and Thursday.
In an appeal to keep shops, educational institutions and offices open on these days, Ms. Banerjee assured the people that “the government is your guard”. It would provide “assistance” in the event of any shop being damaged because of remaining open despite the strike. “Do not surrender to the bandh sponsors,” she urged, while addressing a public function at Amtala in South 24 Parganas district.
“A State cannot progress if there are strikes,” she said, adding “strikes might serve the interests of political parties, but never that of the people”. Her government would act with seriousness if anyone resorted to ‘goondaism’, she warned, even as she urged her party supporters to refrain from being provoked into any confrontation with the people supporting the strike. “Matters should be left to the administration if the situation so warrants.”
As for her being the “military type”, Ms. Banerjee said that she can be “very tough” and “takes life as a challenge”. Her remarks were directed at the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which, she said, “would never return (to power) again”.
“At a point in time, there were many who thought the party would never be ousted from power; now they see that it will never return, even with the help of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress,” she said.
As for her party, “it will be in power for a long time to come; its term has just begun,” Ms. Banerjee added, even as she told the CPI (M) “to refrain from spreading rumours (against her government) and talking too much”. Taking a dig at a section of the local electronic media, she said that the CPI (M) “has its channels. I have none”. “But I have direct access to the people; you [CPI-(M)] don’t.”