Banning bandhs in Bengal may be Mamata Banerjee's next big move. The state government will bring a new law, if necessary, to curb bandhs and strikes in West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Friday.
"I will not call a bandh myself, neither would I allow anyone to call a bandh. If necessary we will bring a new law for this. The culture of bandhs cannot go on as it leaves a negative impact on the economy of the state," Banerjee said at Writer's Buildings.
Lashing out at the CPI(M), the chief minister accused the party of calling bandhs on and off.
"They (CPI-M) think they can call a bandh every now and then as they are not in power. This cannot go on," the chief minister added.
West Bengal, often reckoned as the bandh capital of the country, never had pious intentions about curbing them though.
During his first stint (2001-2006) as the chief minister Budhadeb Bhattacharjee had repeatedly expressed his concern over the culture of bandhs and strikes in West Bengal. "Bandhs have turned into a malady. We have to look for a doctor to treat it," he had famously said.
In 2004 justice Amitava Lala of Calcutta high court triggered a raging debate by ruling rallies - that paralysed the city on weekdays - illegal. It sparked furious protests with CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose taking to the streets and asking Lala to quit Bengal.
On Friday visibly peeved with the dawn-to-dusk bandh in north Bengal districts called by tea garden unions demanding wage hike, Banerjee said that there could be political problems, which can be sorted out through discussions with the labour minister.
"But that doesn't mean that to solve the problem of one tea garden you will create problems for 10 million people."
"Some people are indulging in bandhs every day to derive political benefits in North Bengal, which we won't allow any further," the chief minister warned.
Normal life in some of the districts in North Bengal was affected following a three-day bandh called by tea workers unions, which had partial impact on tea gardens, official sources said.
"Our party has not organised any bandhs and strikes in the past three years. I personally feel that such means of protest yields nothing. Even though our party had resorted to such practices in the past, these days we are not going for such forms of agitation," said the chief minister at a meeting with the industrialists in June.