| SHUTDOWN SHADOW: Heightened security at the Assembly gates after Thursday’s rampage. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
A 12-hour notice for a 12-hour bandh — Mamata Banerjee’s recipe to ruin the first day of the last month of 2006. Already, the flash bandh has claimed victims from AIDS awareness to business basics and fashion to films, cutting the busy Friday calendar down to half.
Barring the city’s image, business of every shape and size will take the biggest beating. For starters, Mamata has managed to send Mulford packing.
US ambassador David C. Mulford’s interaction at Indian Chamber of Commerce has been cancelled. “The ambassador was to stay a couple of days, but due to the sudden bandh call, he is leaving on Friday. Such disruptions do not help Brand Bengal, especially with another bandh coming up in two weeks,” said secretary-general of the chamber Rajeev Singh.
Exide Industries chairman S.B. Ganguly did not mask his disappointment: “After all the effort the industry makes to create a suitable industrial climate, this is the result!”
Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Aloke Mookherjea termed the bandh “a travesty”.
The city, of course, will struggle to get to work, avail of basic services and maintain normalcy. “Loss of banking operations will inconvenience many,” pointed out Shankar Sinha, deputy general manager (circle development officer), SBI.
Though the information technology sector, along with some essential services, is exempt from the bandh purview, there will be heightened security at Sector V to ensure a 24x7 schedule.
Nine thousand cops and heavy Radio Flying Squads will do the rounds of the city to minimise disruption. Train, Metro and flight schedules will remain normal, claimed the administration.
Cause will score over chaos when a World AIDS Day rally will be flagged off by the governor on the Maidan at 9 am, but the AIDS Day walk featuring the chief minister’s wife has been called off.
The slowdown will extend from road to ramp. A meet with designers of The Stylefile Winter Show 2006, the city’s biggest fashion event, has been rescheduled from Friday afternoon to evening. Mumbai-based star designer Aki Narula told Metro he had “never faced anything like this (bandh) in any other city”.
At the plexes, the first show will have to wait for the clock to strike 6 pm. The opening shows of Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center and the daytime shows of Dhoom 2 will be the worst hit.
On campus, fests at Salt Lake School and ICFAI Business School have been postponed. Also, a special programme by the Advertising Club of Calcutta has been pushed back.