West Bengal Panchayat election: Left Front's statewide bandh against poll violence begins amid tight security

Amid elaborate security arrangements, the statewide six-hour bandh called by the Left Front against the violence in West Bengal during the filing of nominations for the panchayat election in the state began from 6 am on Friday.

Public transport was available on the city roads since early morning, flight services remained normal while train services in the suburban sections of the South Eastern Railway and the Eastern Railway remained mostly normal. Metro rail services were also normal.

Left Front called bandh underway in West Bengal

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

Educational institutions were open. Calcutta University and the CBSE authorities had said that the examination schedule would not be altered in view of the bandh.

"Everything is normal and peaceful. People have come out as usual. There is no bandh," state information technology minister and Dum Dum MLA Bratya Basu said.

Basu took a stock of the situation in and around his constituency on Friday morning. The Kolkata Police officials said no one would be allowed to disrupt normal life in the city and strict action would be initiated against those who tried to do so.

The Left Front had called for a six-hour general strike in the state on Friday to protest the "throttling of people's rights" owing to the pre-panchayat election violence in the state.

Announcing the strike, Left Front Chairman Biman Bose had said students appearing for board examinations would be exempt from its purview. "A six-hour strike from 6 am to 12 noon will be held in the state on 13 April to protest throttling of people's rights," Bose had told newspersons.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier dismissed the Left's call for a bandh in the state as a "kind of drama by the CPM" while directing state employees to report for work on Friday.

While addressing reporters at the state secretariat Nabanna, Mamata was quoted as saying, “There will be no bandh in the state. Transport will remain normal like other days. It’s a kind of drama by the CPI(M).”

“They have ruined the state by such bandhs and strikes during their 34 years’ regime. They have nothing to do except calling such bandhs. We will take legal action against the bandh,” Mamata was quoted as saying.

Mamata had stressed that the government was committed to ensuring that people are not inconvenienced during the bandh. Apprehending that the shutdown, in the first half of Friday, might inconvenience traders, students and office-goers, she had told reporters at the state secretariat, "we will not let that happen".

She took a swipe at the Left parties saying that they should call a midnight bandh from 12 midnight to 4 am next time, when everyone is asleep. "I hope they can then claim their bandh is 100 percent successful," she said.

Banerjee accused the CPM of colluding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who "profess communal politics and pursue the game of falsehood and untruth".

"Sorry to say, I had respect for many Communists. But, not for the present group of CPM leaders," she had said.

Earlier, Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said that the Left Front's bandh would be a failure. "We will not allow it to succeed. Office, schools, colleges, shops and all other establishments will remain open, transport will ply smoothly and normal life will not be paralysed," he said.

Describing the call for bandh as "politically motivated", Chatterjee had said that the Left is keen on bringing back the "politics of Bandh" to stall the development process initiated by the Trinamool government. "People will not respond to their call, as the leftists are totally isolated from the people," he added.

The Opposition parties, including the constituents of the Left Front, have been alleging that widespread violence has been committed by activists of ruling Trinamool Congress in several parts of the state during filing of nomination for the panchayat election.

Though the process of filing of nominations for the three-phase elections, to be held in the first week of May, ended on Tuesday, the BJP and Left parties had moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking extension of date for filing nominations, in view of alleged violence.

The apex court had directed the petitioners to approach the Calcutta High Court on Thursday with their grievances.

The Left Front had also organised a rally in West Bengal on Wednesday afternoon to protest the alleged violence in the districts and inaction on the part of police and administration.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Apr 13, 2018 10:54 AM

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