CITU relents, wants to tone down Feb 21 strike

CPM-Backed trade union outfit, CITU, on Tuesday urged other trade unions to convert the second day of the two-day shutdown on February 21 as industrial strike. Earlier, the outfit had declared a 48-hour long general strike beginning from February 20. This would keep transport out of ambit of the strike.

The decision to limit the February 21 strike as industrial strike came after there was widespread criticism about the strike as it fell on International Mother Tongue Day, which is celebrated as Bhasa Divas all across the state.

The parent party, the CPM, was not supportive of the two-day strike and sources said the CITU had to change its decision after being pressurised by former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

"Buddhada never supports strike. This time, when he heard that the trade unions have called for 48-hour general strike, which has been supported by the CITU, Bhattacharjee spoke to the CITU leaders and explained to them how the strike would leave an adverse effect on the people at a time when the party has again started regaining the political momentum," said a party insider.

Bhattacharjee, too, in an interview to a news channel, admitted that he asked CITU leaders to reconsider their two-day strike. "We have told them to rethink about West Bengal so there is no strike on February 21 and we can celebrate Mother Tongue Day," Bhattacharjee told a Bengali news channel.

Initially, there was a division within the CPM over the general strike, but Bhattacharjee prevailed over others.

However, state president of CITU, Shyamal Chakraborty, denied receiving any request from the former CM. "Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee did not tell me anything about the strike. I am here as a trade union leader and not as a representative of any political party," he said.

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