Strike hits life in West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh


New Delhi: Thirteen opposition parties led by the Left Front began a 12-hour nationwide protest Tuesday against what they termed as the government’s inability to check prices, with major disruption to life in West Bengal, Kerala and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance, however, decided not to join the protests and, instead, concentrate on embarrassing the federal government by moving a cut motion in the Lok Sabha later in the evening.

In Kolkata and Lucknow, air, train and road transport services were disrupted, while the streets of Thiruvananthapuram bore a deserted look after the closure of all schools and businesses.

In Lucknow, the protesters were seen marching menacingly toward the state assembly, targeting state-run buses and some trains. This apart, several flights and train services had to be cancelled out of Kolkata.

By and large, life was normal in other parts of the country.

The state governments in West Bengal and Kerala adopted a lenient stand towards their employees. While no public holiday was declared, the two governments decided to treat any leave by their employees as casual leave.

“We have made all arrangements and any attempt to stop anything forcibly will be severely dealt with,” West Bengal Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti said.

In Allahabad, workers of the Samajwadi Party (SP) were seen shouting slogans against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Bahujan Samaj Party’s state government.

Activists of the SP activists stopped the Ganga Gomti train near the Prayag railway station in Allahabad, about 200 km from Lucknow, and also tried to damage a rail track and destroy public property near a prominent college.

“Around 50 SP activists have been arrested in the morning. Additional security has been deployed taking into account the series of protests expected later in the day,” said Superintendent of Police S.S. Bhaghel in Allahabad.

The thirteen parties participating in the protests include SP, Left parties, Telugu Desam Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party. Their main demand is roll back in the prices of fuels, fertilisers and other commodities.

(With inputs from other bureaus)