The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Opposition resolve to disrupt life

Rajesh Gidwani was scheduled to fly to Mumbai on Monday morning for a crucial business meeting. Not wanting to take a chance, the city businessman flew out on Sunday evening.

“I was lucky to have got the ticket. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Gidwani said, rushing to the airport for the 8.20pm flight.

With the Opposition determined to disrupt life — four major political parties have vowed to bring the state to a standstill in the next few days — it’s uncertain times in Calcutta (see box).

“We are opposed to bandhs. But we cannot accept the bloodshed in Nandigram and the manner in which CPM cadres are recapturing villages there. We are left with no option but to call a 24-hour bandh,” said Pradip Bhattacharya, the working president of the Pradesh Congress Committee.

The BJP and SUCI have gone a step forward and called 48-hour bandhs. The Trinamul Congress has not used the word “bandh”, but will “cripple and paralyse Bengal for an indefinite period, starting Monday”, said party legislator Partha Chatterjee.

According to him, the Trinamul will continue its protest across the state unless CPM cadres “stop playing with the lives of common people”.

Sources in the party told Metro that it would go all out to enforce the cripple call till Wednesday, when Mamata Banerjee will review the situation.

The state government is taking steps to keep life normal.

“We are making the necessary arrangements to maintain normalcy in the next few days,” said home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray.

Besides promising to run public transport, the government has made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order. About 5,500 police personnel will be deployed in the city on Monday. Assistant commissioners of police will lead Rapid Action Force teams on patrol to ensure that shops are not forcibly closed and traffic is not disrupted. There will be 200 police pickets at vital intersections.

“Attempts at violence will be dealt with firmly,” said Raj Kanojia, the inspector-general of police (law and order).

nPranab call: Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, whose party has called Monday’s bandh, is understood to have spoken to CPM leader Sitaram Yechury on Sunday. The reason for the call is not known, but sources said the bandh figured in the conversation.

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