The six-hour-long general strike called by the Left Front evoked partial response in Siliguri on Friday, even as the ruling Trinamul Congress said people themselves thwarted the strike.
The ‘token’ strike was called against large-scale violence allegedly perpetrated by the Trinamul Congress during filing of nominations for the upcoming three-tier rural elections in the state.
Until 10 am, most of the shops and market places were closed in principal areas like Hill Cart Road and Sevoke Road, while unlike the normal days, the number of vehicles plying on the roads were less.
A few shops started opening after 10 am. Siliguri Sub-Divisional officer Shiraz Daneshyar said the attendance in government offices was normal. Adequate police personnel were deployed to prevent any untoward incident, while there were no reports of such incidents in the town.
The Left Front took to the streets in support of the strike from Anil Biswas Bhaban, the Darjeeling District CPIM headquarters, at Hill Cart Road. Party state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra led the march, which covered Hasmi Chawk and Air View More.
Police, meanwhile, took video footages of the rally. “The strike has been called to protest the unprecedented violence committed by the ruling party, barring the Opposition parties from filing the nominations for the rural polls. The violence was unleashed right from the first day of filing of the nominations. We have seen incidents of violence and jamming of booths by the ruling party on poll days earlier, but the onslaught during the nomination process never happened in the country. Many people were injured in bomb attacks. Trinamul Congress and police are acting together,” Mr Mishra said.
“It is a token strike to register protest against what was happening. The strike was called for six hours, since we understand there is business as the Bengali New Year approaches,” he added.
Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya and Darjeeling district Left Front convener Jibesh Sarkar claimed the strike was successful. “People spontaneously supported the strike with a positive frame of mind. The strike is completely successful,” Mr Bhattacharya said.
The Trinamul Congress, meanwhile, said the strike was not successful as people had thwarted it. “The strike was an utter failure, as normal life was not disrupted. The attendance at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) was sound, while only the Left-affiliated workers and councillors were the ones who observed the strike,” said the Leader of the Opposition at the Left-run SMC, Ranjan Sarkar.