Kolkata Port Trust unions protest against Modi's move to change its name

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Trade unions at Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) have started protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement to change the name of the port after Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, saying the move will hurt the history of the organisation.

A mass signature campaign from the employees of the riverine port against the Centre's decision has been launched by the National Union of Waterfront Workmen(I), backed by the West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress.

Modi, while speaking at the 150th anniversary programme of KoPT on January 12, had announced that it will be renamed after the Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder.

"It is not acceptable. We commenced our protests and have been holding meetings and rallies in offices and docks. We plan to continue such programmes at every corner of the port area mobilising support from employees, until the decision is revoked," National Union of Waterfront Workmen (I) general secretary Asim Sutradhar told PTI.

He said the union has collected 1,000 signatures and hopes to garner 1,500 more in few days, following which a memorandum will be sent to the shipping ministry to reconsider the name-change decision.

CITU-backed Calcutta Port and Shore Mazdoor Union general secretary Prabir Sarkar said they are supporting the campaign as they oppose the Modi's announcement.

The name-change will hurt "the history of the organisation", he said.

"In Kolkata, we have Netaji Subhas Dock and Satish Samanta berth at Haldia, both named after freedom fighters. We had also sent a letter to the port chairman, urging him to celebrate Netaji's birthday on January 23," Sarkar said.

Hind Mazdoor Sangh-backed trade union leader Chinmoy Roy said the Centre's announcement was "unexpected" as there was no demand for it.

"Our stand and strategy will be decided at the union's meeting on January 20," he said.

Leaders of the union affiliated to INTUC will also decide their stand on the same day.

The port management, however, has been maintaining silence on the issue.

The CPI(M) and the TMC have already criticised the Centre for its decision to rename the port, contending that the rechristening will have no material impact on the its performance.

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