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Mamata asks EC to ban parties calling shutdowns

Posted on Feb 20, 09:02PM | IANS

Kolkata, Feb 20 : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday asked the Election Commission to ban the political parties for calling shutdowns, evoking criticism from the opposition and trade unions.

"It is my humble request to the Election Commission... whichever party calls a 'bandh' (shutdown), let them be banned," Banerjee told reporters at state secretariat Writers' Buildings.

Her comments came on day one of the 48-hour nationwide general strike called by central trade unions, including those affiliated to her bete noire Left parties.

"It is most unfortunate that our chief minister is unaware about legal rights. She must consult the constitution before making such a demand," CITU state president Shyamal Chakrabarty said.

"She is frustrated because our strike has been successful. The demand is a result of that frustration," said Chakrabarty, a state secretariat member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

He said the strike was a "tremendous success" in the state.

State Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra also ridiculed Banerjee.

"If political parties were to be banned for calling shutdowns, Trinamool Congress would never have been born. Trinamool embraced and pursued politics of bandh till it came to power in the state," Mishra noted.

The unions also accused the Banerjee government of resorting to violent ways to suppress the labour movement in the country.

"The democratic mask which this government was trying to put on has come off and now it is brazenly indulging in violent and coercive ways to suppress labour movement in the state," UTUC leader Ashok Ghosh said.

"Unlike other governments, this government has been using police and administration to instill fear among people to foil the strike. But in spite of all its efforts, the government has not been able to suppress the voice of workers," INTUC leader Ramen Pandey said, adding that Banerjee's demand for a ban was "absurd and a sign of fascism".