Buddhadeb's advice to demonstrators

Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: Security personnel accompanying the West Bengal Chief Minister were momentarily taken aback when Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee instructed his car driver to pull aside at a city street intersection on Thursday morning, got off the car and strode toward a procession to ask the demonstrators to keep to one side of the street. He also advised them that no one should be forced into supporting the 24-hour strike.

This is not the first time that Mr. Bhattacharjee has made clear his views on such matters. He was insistent that demonstrators — whatever their political allegiance — should not impede the flow of traffic even if they supported a cause his party sympathised with, as was the case on Thursday.

At Writer's Building, Mr. Bhattacharjee had to take the stairs to the first floor where his chamber is located as the personnel manning the VIP elevators had taken the day off in support of the strike called by Left-affiliated organisations. Industries and Commerce Minister Nirupam Sen and Minister for Fire Services Pratim Chatterjee also had to walk up the stairs.

The overall attendance at Writer's Building was thin.

A circular had earlier been issued to State employees to be present and report their attendance by noon when the attendance register closed for the day.

Those not reporting to work would have to submit an explanation or forego a day's casual leave.

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