Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that reducing the VAT on fuel will not benefit the people in the long run as the daily increase in petrol and diesel prices along with the unprecedented devaluation of the rupee were a result of an absolute financial mismanagement.
"It is the biggest economic disaster. Demonetisation followed by the GST and the prices of petroleum products are soaring. The value of rupee is going down and the prices of petrol and diesel are going up and finally, the value of the life of common people is going down with each passing day. We are unable to understand where it will reach," she said at Nabanna on Monday afternoon.
Commenting on the bandh, she said: "We cannot afford to lose man-days. 80 days man-days had been lost in the past regime. In the past seven years, we had to toil hard to revive the financial health of the state. We have to pay Rs 48,000 crore to repay loans," 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.
Banerjee said that Ahmed Patel had called her up on Friday and wanted to know her stand. "I told him we support the issue but oppose the bandh." She added that bandhs should be the last weapon. "Movements should be conducted regularly and bandhs should be the last weapon," she remarked.
"Bengal is trying to make a turnaround and we have a number of achievements in some areas… 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.
The Trinamool Congress organised protest rallies against the rise of petroleum products. Trinamool workers and leaders took part in the rally that started at Moulali and ended at Dorina Crossing via S N Banerjee Road.
Later, a meeting was held at Dorina Crossing where TMC MP and president of the party's youth wing Abhishek Banerjee addressed the gathering. He said rallies will be held in Delhi to oust the anti-people BJP government at the Centre. Hundreds of Trinamool workers took part in the protest procession.
Life was normal across the state during the bandh with traffic, rail services operating normally and business establishments, schools, colleges and other educational institutions functioning as usual. Scheduled examinations in educational institutions were also held.
In the state government offices, the attendance was more than the usual days as the state Finance department had given a notice which stated that a day's salary of the absentee would be deducted. In districts too, the state-run offices functioned normally.
The state government ran more buses and had deployed around 1,300 policemen in Kolkata to maintain peace. No untoward incidents were reported in the city.
There was no disruption of flights at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport and at Haldia port, cargo handling was normal.