CPI(M) criticises Mamata for opposing Congress's 'bharat bandh'

Congress has called for a hartal on Sep 10 to protest against rising fuel prices

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses during the 5th anniversary celebration of 'Kanyasree Diwas' at Netaji Indoor Stadium, in Kolkata | PTI West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses during the 5th anniversary celebration of 'Kanyasree Diwas' at Netaji Indoor Stadium, in Kolkata | PTI

The CPI(M) came down heavily on the Trinamool Congress for deciding to act tough with those who support the hartal called by the Congress on September 10 to protest against the hike in petro-products.

CPI(M) politburo member and state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra lashed out at West Bengal government saying, "The TMC government, while paying lip service from time to time and pretending to oppose the misrule of the Modi government, issued a draconian order to showcause its employees for absence, irrespective of whether it is wilful or not, refuse casual leave on the day of hartal, which has been called to protest against the anti-people policies of the Modi government."

The Mamata Banerjee government, after a meeting, has decided to deny casual leave to all employees of the state government, along with state-aided organisations. It also says that the government would give compensation to any transporters if his or her vehicles are damaged.

The order released by the Bengal government said, "No casual leave for the employees would be granted for the first half or second half or for the whole day nor any other leave shall be granted to any employee on the said date."

It further said that the people who are on leave till September 9 will have to report on that day.

The government issued the order through the governor, but made some exceptions like hospitalisation of the employee, bereavement in the family, severe illness for which a person is on continuous leave prior to September 7 and who are on maternity leave.

The employee who fails to come to work on the hartal day would be issued a letter from the government asking them to explain their absence.

"All the departments have been asked to serve such letters to the employees who would take leave on that day," said a senior IAS officer of the West Bengal government.

And if he or she fails to come up with a satisfactory reason, salary would be admissible for the day.

"And those who would not respond to the showcause notice would be liable for disciplinary action," said the order, signed by the additional chief secretary, finance department.

Many states run by the parties opposed to the BJP, have decided to support the Congress's bandh on September 10. Kerala is one of them.

Banerjee's opposition to the bandh is a major blow to the opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. It remains to be seen whether any other regional party would follow suit.

Said Surya Kanta Mishra: "The interrelationships of these two governments (Centre and West Bengal) may appear antagonistic on the stage but complementary in the green room—the former an illusion and the latter a hidden reality."

Congress leaders in Bengal have already written to Congress president Rahul Gandhi requesting him not to go for an alliance with Trinamool Congress in 2019 election. However, there is an open split in the Congress. Two party MPs in Malda, Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and the niece Mausam Benazir Noor have openly voiced their support to an alliance with the TMC to prevent the rise of BJP.