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CPM sets rally target, city resigns to chaos

- Schools to close earlier to beat traffic snarls

The CPM has vowed to unleash two lakh supporters on the city centre on Monday afternoon, the extent of traffic paralysis they will cause on the first day of the working week being its measure of rally success.

Party leader Gautam Deb said the trouble thousands of commuters would face was “unavoidable”. Not that this city of traffic-choker rallies expected him to say otherwise.

Several schools have rescheduled their classes and called off tests to spare children the torment of being stuck in mile-long snarls on the way back home.

The primary section of La Martiniere for Boys will give over at 9.30am, the junior section at 10am and the middle and senior sections at 11am. La Martiniere for Girls will see the last batch of students leave by 12.30pm.

Calcutta Boys’ School on SN Banerjee Road, through which a procession of Left faithful would head for the rally venue, has announced that classes will give over between 10.15 and 10.50am instead of the usual 1.30pm.

Calcutta Girls’ High School will ring the final bell at noon instead of 1.40pm. “Our students bore the brunt of a string of processions in the city last week and we do not want them to suffer again,” a teacher said.

Shri Shikshayatan School will give over by 2pm instead of the regular 3.30pm close.

The rally on Rani Rashmoni Avenue is scheduled to start at 1pm, but the police have warned that traffic in central Calcutta could go haywire as early as 10.30am.

“We have been told that 50,000 people will walk to the rally venue from Sealdah station. Traffic along APC Road, AJC Bose Road, MG Road, CIT Road, SN Banerjee Road and Lenin Sarani could come to a halt,” said an officer at the Lalbazar control room.

Deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Dilip Adak said vehicles carrying CPM supporters to the rally venue wouldn’t be allowed to choke Central Avenue, already congested because of the ongoing beautification project.

Eastern Railway will run a special train from Bongaon to Sealdah on Monday morning, “as requested by the CPM leadership”.

The lull in disruptive rallies at the city centre since late last year had ended on June 30 with the chief minister taking the lead.

Mamata not only attended the road-hog Hool Divas (a programme commemorating an 1855 tribal uprising) event in the middle of the Metro Channel, she also declared that the administration would organise the event at the same spot next year.

The CPM had sought permission from the police to organise the October 1 rally in front of Victoria House, where Mamata presides over the July 21 martyrs’ day event every year. But the request was turned down on grounds of potential traffic disruptions.

Calcutta High Court had banned rallies that block thoroughfares in September 2003, saying that nobody had the right to hold a programme by blocking roads on a working day.

The then Left Front government moved the division bench the very next month and obtained a stay on the order.