Kolkata, Sep 10: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday the daily increase in fuel prices and the unprecedented devaluation of the rupee were a result of the "mismanagement of the economy" by the BJP-led central government.
But, she added, the 'Bharat Bandh' called by 21 parties, including the Congress, against soaring fuel prices could not be the "first and the last options" of a protest. The worsening of the country's economy had started with demonetisation in 2016 and then the implementation of the GST, Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.
"This (daily fuel price hike and devaluation of the rupee) is a disaster and mismanagement of the country's economy. The price of rupee is falling everyday. Prices of petroleum products are increasing every day. There is no value of life of common people. We are unable to understand where it will reach," she said.
The TMC supremo, who has been among the strongest critics of the BJP, said that she supported the issue on which the Bharat Bandh was called but not the bandh.
"We support the issue but not the bandh because West Bengal has already lost nearly eight lakh mandays because of bandh and strikes (during the erstwhile Left Front regime). Bandh and strikes cannot be the first and last option of any protest," she said.
"And when West Bengal is trying to make a turnaround. We have achieved in some areas, we also achieved the number one place in some areas also (sic). So, we do not support bandh on principal - whoever calls it. But because we support the cause, we held protest rallies in the city," she added.
Banerjee said Congress leader Ahmed Patel had telephoned her on Friday night and sought her support for the bandh. "I told him that I support the cause but we (TMC) will not be participating in the bandh because - firstly - they (Cong) did not consult us before taking the decision. And then we on principal do not support calling bandh and strikes," she said.
The chief minister said she had sent TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy to participate in the protest rally in Delhi so that the opposition unity is not affected. Asked to comment on some states decreasing the VAT on fuel, Banerjee said that move would not help the cause.
"Some states like Karnataka have decided to cut the VAT of petroleum products but that will not help the situation. Because the fuel price is on the rise everyday," she stated.
Life was normal across the state during the Bharat Bandh with traffic, rail services operating normally and business establishments, schools, colleges and other educational institutions functioning as normal. Scheduled examinations in educational institutions were also held.