Wednesday February 20, 2019
Home India Congress Beng...

Congress Bengal shutdown evokes partial response

0
//

Kolkata: Government and commercial establishments were functioning normally in most parts of West Bengal as a Congress sponsored 12 hour shutdown on Tuesday against the “anarchy and lawlessness” in the state evoked partial response.
While the shutdown was largely effective in Congress strongholds of Murshidabad and Malda districts, it evoked little response in others parts of the state including the state capital Kolkata.

Photo credit: www.sify.com
Photo credit: www.sify.com

Train movement particularly the suburban train services on the Sealdah section was disrupted with Congress activists resorting to demonstrations on the tracks.

“Train services were temporarily disrupted on the Sealdah section due to demonstrations. But now the services are running normal. No such disruptions, so far has been reported on the Howrah route,” an Eastern Railway spokesperson said.

In the city, public transport system including the buses and the metro train services operated normally.

Many Congress activists have been arrested across the state for attempting to forcibly enforce the shutdown called by the party against the “growing anarchy and lawlessness”, including the lynching of a college student in Sabang of West Midnapore district.

There were also reports of vandalism in some parts of the state by the shutdown enforcers.

While a bus was attacked and its wind shields broken in Howrah, the block development officer in Sabang alleged Congress activists ransacked his office and assaulted him.

In Murshidabad and Malda, educational institutions and commercial establishments remained shut although government offices were open.

While the Congress termed the shutdown successful, the ruling Trinamool has ridiculed it, dubbing the call “completely ineffective”.

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the administration of resorting to violence to foil the shutdown after his party supporters were baton charged by the police in Baharampur of Murshidabad disyrict for allegedly preventing employees from entering the land revenue office.

“The police have not even spared women and are raining batons on us for participating in a democratic protest. If this government thinks it can deter us with violence then we are ready even to receive bullets,” said Chowdhury.

Congress legislator and former state minister Manas Bhuniya claimed the shutdown was successful.

“People have wholeheartedly supported the shutdown, markets are closed, schools and colleges are closed and the attendance in government offices is negligible. The government is forcibly operating buses and trains but they are deserted,” said Bhuniya.

But Trinamool leader and state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee dubbed the shutdown as “completely ineffective”.

(IANS)

Next Story

With The Elections Coming Up, Indian Government Promises Farmers Their Income Support

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers.

0
Farmers, India
An Indian woman helps her farmer husband irrigate a paddy field using a traditional system, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

With an eye on wooing voters ahead of what is expected to be a tough national election, India’s Hindu nationalist government announced cash handouts of billions of dollars for poor farmers.

In the annual budget presented in parliament Friday, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said 120 million farmers with less than two hectares of land would get an income of $85 a year.

Goyal announced that the measure, which will cost about $10.5 billion, would be implemented with immediate effect. “This will pave the way for them to earn a respectable living,” he said. “Such support will help them avoid indebtedness.”

India, Farmers
Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, center, holds a briefcase containing federal budget documents with Junior Finance ministers Shiv Pratap Shukla, center right, and Pon Radhakrishnan, left, upon their arrival at the parliament house in New Delhi, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

Farmers complain that a sharp decline in crop prices has hurt their incomes and driven millions into debt. Rural experts said they were not sure whether the measure will assuage disgruntled rural communities that have been demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.

The government also announced a pension scheme of about $40 a month for nearly 100 million poor workers in the country’s vast unorganized sector and tax breaks for the middle classes.

The welfare measures come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party tries to address rising discontent in the country — there is growing anger in rural areas over falling crop prices and widespread worries that his government has failed to create jobs to meet the needs of the country’s huge young population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party recently lost elections in three heartland states, raising concerns it could struggle to win a majority in the upcoming elections. Modi had sailed to power in 2014 on the promise of creating millions of jobs.

Modi, India, Farmers
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Although economic growth numbers have been good, lack of jobs has emerged as the biggest challenge for Modi. A report in the Business Standard newspaper says a government survey that has not been released pegs the unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 percent.

Expressing optimism that “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity,” Goyal said that infrastructure projects such as building roads in rural areas will boost employment.

The opposition Congress Party slammed the income support of $85 a year announced for farmers as inadequate. Saying that it is not going to be transformational, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “₹6000 [6,000 rupees, or $84] in income support for farmers boils down to ₹500 [500 rupees, or $7] per month. Is that supposed to enable them to live with the honor and dignity?”

Also Read: Twitter Searching For ‘A Unique Leader’ To Take Indian Operations To Next Level

The Congress Party is also trying to woo voters with the promise of a minimum income for the poor if it wins the upcoming general election. The BJP has dismissed the pledge as unaffordable, while economists have expressed concern that the “competitive populism” by India’s two main parties ahead of general elections could strain the country’s finances.

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers. (VOA)