Kolkata, Mar 12 (UNI) Veteran CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu today called upon industrial workers not to give up the right to strike, but asked them to use it as the last weapon.
''Do not give up the right to strike. But use it only as a last resort and only after talks with the Government fail,'' he said while addressing an election rally, organised by Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the labour front of the CPI(M) at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
Reassuring the large crowd that the ruling Left Front in West Bengal continued to be a friend of workers and common employees, Mr Basu said unlike in other parts of the country, the state government had never tried to frustrate any strike with the help of police and would never do so.
''This has been our policy which we will be adhering to,'' he said, adding it was the Left Governent which had given the state employees the right to strike.
Mr Basu's comments followed the recent debate within the CPI(M) over the propriety of strike in the Information Technology Industry, which the Left Government has been trying to develop.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and other front leaders of the CPI(M) and CITU were present at the rally.
Commenting on the contentious proposal for acquisition of land for industrialisation that gave the opposition Trinamool Congress a plank to whip up a poll issue, the nonagenarian leader said there was no question of taking away the high yielding farmland.
''We have not gone mad to acquire agricultural land for setting up industries. We consider acquiring only those plots having poor agricultural output,'' he said.
Dubbing the Trinamool, the 'B' team of the BJP, Mr Basu said the party had turned into what it once described the Congress as.
''Ms Mamata Banerjee formed a new party breaking away from the Congress. She once described the Congress as a 'B' team of the CPI(M). By getting along with the BJP, it is her party which is actually like that,'' he said.
Calling for installation of the seventh Left Front Government in the coming elections, Mr Basu urged partymen to ensure victory with bigger margins this time.
''We ought to ensure victory for the seventh successive time. We should also ensure that we get more votes and more seats,'' Mr Basu said.
He said the 29-year Left rule in the state was a record in the world and it was time that the ruling coalition broke its own record by retaining power. ''I have grown old. Do not know how long I will survive. I have the last wish to see the Front's victory,'' he said in a sentimental appeal.
In an assurance to street hawkers, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said they would not be evicted from pavements without alternative arrangements.
''We do not want to evict those who the state can not provide alternative livelihood,'' he said allaying apprehension of an eviction drive in a city witnessing swelling number of shopping malls and flyovers under his Chief Ministership.
UNI KDG BA/VD RK1958