In India there are mounting problems for the Janata party government of Prime Minister Morarji Desai.
In India there are mounting problems for the Janata party government of Prime Minister Morarji Desai. The strike which has crippled the port of Calcutta continues, and thousand of tonnes of goods are stranded in the docks. And in New Delhi supporters of Mrs. Indira Gandhi marched to the parliament on Wednesday (21 March) to protest at new legal charges alleged against the former Premier.
SYNOPSIS: The dock strike in Calcutta has brought the port to an almost complete halt. Sixty ships have been stranded at the port since the strike began two weeks ago, and twenty more are awaiting to dock in the Ganges delta. The strike, by two thousand, five hundred dock labourers, follows a dispute by four hundred merchant navy officers.
The dock strike has been organised by the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, a trade union organisation linked to Mr. Desai's Janata party. The union is demanding the implementation of an arbitration pay award. Despite pleas from the state government, strikes refused to handle desperately needed gas turbines. The port's dock labour board has called for a state of emergency to ensure unloading of essential cargoes.
In New Delhi, on Wednesday (21 March) several thousand supporters of Mrs. Gandhi's Congress Party marched through Connaught Place. They were protesting at the government's plan to constitute special courts to try the former Premier for crimes allegedly committed during the State of Emergency. Mrs. Gandhi's supporters argue that the courts violate the constitution, though the governments says it has received clearance from the Supreme Court.
The demonstrator's banners also protested at increased levels of taxation in this year's budget, Finance Minister Charan Singh's budget has hit urban dwellers hard. The government's policy is to provide extra money to create jobs in rural areas. Mounting labour unrest and religious violence have plagued India in recent months. Reuters report that many observers doubt whether the government can survive the pressure. Riot police guarding Parliament House and the demonstrators refrained from violence. After some chanting of slogans, the crowd dispersed peacefully.