Mamata for regulating hoardings, meetings in Kolkata

September 17th, 2011 - 1:30 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Sep 16 (IANS) West Bengal’s political parties Friday sparred on the issue of fixing spots for holding meetings and rallies and installing hoardings as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tried to ensure a semblance of order in the city where life is regularly stalled by political disruptions.

Presiding over an all party meeting - the fourth since she came to power in May - Banerjee came up with suggestions about earmarking four locations in the city for political meetings and rallies to ease the problem faced by commuters when such activities are held in the city hub.

She suggested the government could develop the areas around the Shahid Minar, Mayo Road, at the base of the Gandhi stature at the Maidan and the Rani Rashmopni Road - all in central Kolkata - for holding rallies and meetings if there was a consensus in the meeting.

“I am into politics. I firmly believe in political and democratic rights. But just because we are in power we have no right to inconvenience the people. Political parties are for serving the people, not to make life difficult for them,” Banerjee said after the meeting.

Regarding hoardings, the chief minister said while no hoardings can be put up in the green zone comprising the central business district of BBD Bag, the government was ready to install permanent boards at ten locations of the city.

“Political parties can use those boards for their slogans during their programmes. Once their programme is over another political party can use them. We will do the work free of cost and maintain the hoarding boards also,” she said.

She suggested setting up a steering committee of officials for the job.

She said for regulating commercial hoardings in the city, Kolkata Municipal Corporation has been asked to prepare a plan of action.

Banerjee said the Kolkata skyline has been covered by giant hoardings. “This causes visual pollution. The sky cannot be seen in many spots. Trees cannot be seen. It looks so ugly”.

However, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) central committee member Mohammed Selim questioned the need for convening an all-party meeting on the issue when the state and the country had more pressing problems.

“The state is witnessing rampant political murders, atrocities, extortion and oppression. Why should hoardings and meetings be a priority for the government now?” Selim asked.

Alleging that the government had failed to send concrete proposals to the parties before the meeting, he said as there was no specific agenda it was difficult for the parties to decide their stand.

“If the government tries to muzzle democratic protest then we will oppose it. We cannot have a situation where protests against price rise, corruption and injustice cannot be organised,” he said.

Selim reminded Banerjee her party Trinamool Congress had boycotted a similar meeting called by the erstwhile Left Front government in 2003. “The Trinamool boycotted it calling it anti-people. We said leaders have to be visionary and think about the consequences of what they say,” Selim said dripping sarcasm.

Enraged over Selim’s derisive comments before media persons, Banerjee said: “We never even once indicated that we want to restrict rallies. The CPI-M should remember the Trinamool is only a few seats short of a two-third majority. Our ally Congress is second in numerical strength in the Assembly, while the CPI-M has only come a poor third”.

“We are calling frequent all-party meetings because we believe in showing democratic courtesy. We do not want to run the state by using our brute majority. But the CPI-M is construing our bid for consensus on important issues as our weakness”.

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