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Left's strike in Bengal largely ineffective

Kolkata: A Left-sponsored six-hour general strike in West Bengal evoked lukewarm response on Friday as people came out in numbers on the streets while public transport was available in the city and suburbs amid tight security arrangements.

Accusing the state's ruling Trinamool Congress of throttling democracy and unleashing massive violence on opposition party workers to prevent them from filing nominations for next month's panchayat (rural) polls, the 16 Left parties and associates had called the six-hour strike in the state that started at 6 a.m.

Those parties convening the strike included all partners of the erstwhile rulers CPI-M led Left Front.

However, it was business as usual in the cities of Kolkata and Howrah where thousands of office goers hit the streets as the day progressed.

The districts also remained largely active barring stray incidents of unrest in some places like West Bardhaman district's Durgapur where the strike supporters tried to put up road blockades and clashed with the police.

Train services in Eastern and South-Eastern Railways were normal while educational institutions including schools and colleges remained open.

Trinamool Congress leaders and state ministers Bratya Basu and Laxmi Ratan Sukla monitored the situation in their respective constituencies and claimed the people of Bengal have shunned the "shutdown-culture" and accepted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's developmental agenda.

"Today is like any other normal day. There is no impact of the shutdown. Most people are going to work. I want to thank people for rejecting the culture of shutdowns and strikes in Bengal. Bengal is going ahead under the present government and there is no place for strike on the face of massive development here," said Sukla, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports.

The state government on Friday issued a notice to its employees stating it would not entertain absenteeism on the day of the strike and said no casual leaves due to inconvenience of transport would be granted.

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