The Left Front Thursday accused the state power minister of “denying (it) a dialogue” over the hike in power tariff, an issue which the Front has taken up to stage a protest outside the headquarters of Calcutta Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) at Esplanade in the city.
On the second day of the protest, state CPM secretary and Leader of Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra said an appointment had been sought but neither the power minister (Manish Gupta) nor the chairman-cum-managing director of WBSEDCL (Narayan Swaroop Nigam) made themselves available for a dialogue.
“We want a dialogue but the minister doesn’t have time. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must keep in mind that it could also happen that she may want to talk to us but we may not have the time. Why is her minister afraid of talking to us?” Mishra asked.
Acknowledging that being the Opposition leader meant that his electricity bills were paid by the state government, Mishra said that his concern therefore was not for himself but for the common people. He urged leaders and supporters across party lines to unite in protest against the hike in tariff. “It is not only the members of the Left Front who get affected but people from all sections of the society do. We urge everyone to join the protest. We will have to talk in a language which they (the ruling party) understand,” he said.
“The state government and the private company has to roll back the tariff rise. We will not agree with it. We will fight till the end to ensure that the tariff, which was increased, is rolled back,” Mishra added.
In continuation of its demonstration, the Left Front has decided to take out a march to Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police headquarters, on October 1.
Accusing the Narendra Modi-led government of trying to “sell off” India to big corporates, CPM politburo member Mohammed Selim accused the Trinamool Congress of being a party to all “anti-people policies” pursued by the central government.
“Narendra Modi and the BJP government are trying to sell the country to the big corporates and they have earmarked energy sector such as electricity, fuel and natural resources, which will be given away at throwaway prices to these corporates. They will loot our country,” he said during the agitation programme.
Selim said “a tacit understanding” with the BJP kept the TMC from becoming vocal on various anti-people policies of the Centre.
He also came down heavily upon both Mamata and Sanjiv Goenka (chairman of RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group). “Sanjiv has the patronisation of the CM. It will not be possible for him to bring down the power rates as long as he accompanies the CM to foreign trips. We had given a warning on August 27. On September 2, the CM said we could be stopped in one minute but now she is missing,” he said.
It is learnt that the Left Front’s Kolkata unit has written a letter to Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi seeking an appointment to discuss the issue of increase in power tariff.