Normal life was severely affected in the city and across West Bengal on Thursday in response to the 12-hour general strike called by the State Left Front Committee and simultaneously by other parties in protest against the Centre’s decision to hike diesel prices, impose restrictions on subsidised LPG cylinders and allow Foreign Direct Investment in multibrand retail.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said even though “this bandh has been supported by everyone because the issue is genuine,” the Trinamool Congress was opposed to the politics of bandhs, and her government had taken all possible measures to ensure that it was not successful. She claimed that 89 per cent of the government employees reported for duty.
Processions were taken out by senior Trinamool leaders including its Union Ministers, who will resign from the UPA government on Friday, in protest against the strike. Even as they claimed that the strike had failed to evoke much response, the Trinamool leaders said it was their party which had the gumption to pull out of the UPA government on the issues in question.
Over 600 arrested
Barring stray incidents of violence in the districts, the strike was peaceful. The city police arrested 44 persons. Over 600 people were arrested across the State in connection with these incidents.
More buses, few takers
Shops, educational institutions and marketplaces were closed and even though there were more number of state-run buses on the streets, there were few takers. Rail services were affected as a result of a series of agitations at various places, and some long-distance trains had to be regulated, while others were cancelled.
The strike coincided with the first day of a 72-hour strike called by taxi operators demanding an increase in fares in the wake of the hike in diesel prices.
Biman Bose, chairman of the State Left Front Committee, said “the only incidents of violence reported during the day took place when Trinamool supporters attacked those who were supporting the strike.”
Leaders of the Left Front took out a protest rally in the city, and similar marches were organised by supporters of the Left parties across the State.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) — parties that had also given a call for a strike — took out marches.