The first day of the 48-hour nationwide bandh called by 11 trade unions evoked a mixed response in West Bengal despite Trinamool Congress government making all efforts to make the strike a complete non-starter. The state remained peaceful barring a couple of incidents of sporadic violence in some areas.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited several areas —Burrabazar, Rashbehari, Babughat, Hazra crossing, to name a few — to review the functioning of the offices and transport system, claimed that “work culture” has returned to the state with 100 per cent attendance in the government offices. “In terms of work culture we are leading the nation right now,” she added.
But the CPM-backed trade union, CITU, claimed that the strike was successful in the state.
Government offices recorded over 90 per cent attendance. A circular was issued yesterday warning the employees against skipping the office. They were warned of pay cut and disciplinary action. The offices of private firms, however, remained closed. At the IT hub in Salt Lake, at least 60 per cent companies remained open, however, with a low turnout. While the government market complexes remained open, private shops and malls remained closed in the city. On the roads, private buses and taxis were seen few in numbers, but many state buses were seen plying. Barring blockades at Hasnabad and Diamond sections of the Eastern Railway, train services were normal in Howrah and Sealdah divisions, sources said. At the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, flight schedule remained normal.
Metro ran all its usual weekday 270 services. There was 87.6 per cent attendance of staff, stated a press statement issued by the Metro Railways.
While CITU claimed that only 17 of the total 179 tea gardens in Terai and Dooars region remained open, Trinamool’s trade union, INTTUC, said except 3, the remaining 176 tea gardens functioned normally.
Meanwhile, Mamata said that she will give rewards to owners of those shops and kiosks which remained open today.
Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha claimed: “Everything is absolutely normal.”
Over tea & Fish Fry, Mamata brings Writers’ to a halt
KOLKATA: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the centre of much excitement at Writers’ Buildings on Wednesday afternoon. Beaming, she barged into the IRCTC canteen at 3.30 pm along with actress Locket Chatterjee and some ministers and officials and sat down at a table. Immediately, all hell broke loose. Babus put down their pens and jostled with each other, some trying to touch Mamata’s feet, some taking pictures of her presiding over the tea party. Mediapersons came running in, trampling flower pots and spilling water from tumblers. Securitypersons had a tough time trying to erect a human wall around the CM.
“I will pay for everyone eating here now,” Mamata told the canteen manager. While Mamata had a cup of coffee, secretary to CM Gautam Sanyal, Mayor Shovon Chatterjee, Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh and Housing Minister Arup Biswas tucked into a variety of dishes including fish fry and masala dosa. The government employees who stayed the night at Writers’ had a whale of a time playing cards and indulging in adda, accompanied by tea, khichdi, egg fry and chicken curry.
Bus & mini-bus
The government arranged 500 extra buses to ensure smooth commuting for people. But the private transporters preferred to keep their vehicles off the roads. According to Bus Syndicate, of the 37,000 private buses, only 150 operated in the city and about 1,500 across the state. Less than 50 per cent of the 1,500 mini-buses were on city roads today.
Taxis too were seen few in number. “Of the 27,000 taxis that ply, today about 12,000 were on roads — an abnormally high number on a bandh day but they hardly got any takers,” said taxi union.