Kolkata: It was de facto holiday in Kolkata on Tuesday as the Mamata Banerjee government pulled out all the stops to celebrate Kolkata Knight Riders' Indian Premier League (IPL) win with thousands of people on the streets and offices reporting thin attendance. Businesspersons and economists termed it a colossal loss of manhours and productivity.
The West Bengal capital came to a virtual standstill as office-goers either took time off to celebrate or couldn't get to work even if they wanted to because of road restrictions and traffic snarls.
Thousands lined the roads to watch the victory parade of the Knights, an estimated 70,000 gathered at Eden Gardens where the team was given a civic reception and 20,000-30,000 stood outside, despite it being a working day, unable to get inside.
While the Mamata Banerjee-led government, fighting to clear a debt burden of over Rs 2 lakh crore, celebrated, a section of Kolkatans and businesspersons tried to calculate the enormous losses.
"It is a colossal waste. We have lost so many manhours. Though I am not sure whether loss of manhours means loss of productivity to that extent because hardly anybody works in West Bengal," an economics professor of Jadavpur University, who refused to give his name fearing retaliation from the government, told IANS.
He said the celebrations could have been held during the weekend.
"Today was a nice occasion to disobey the rules, to skip office. But what will Kolkata gain from KKR's triumph? KKR will get all the prize money. But will it enlighten our state? Will (KKR co-owner) Shah Rukh Khan set up an industry?"
Ruchhita Kazaria, who owns advertisement agency Aarcee Enterprises, was aghast. "The preposterous and outrageous celebrations are looking like India has won the Olympics in totality, in every sport division," Kazaria told IANS.
"When Ms Banerjee has herself quoted that we are a POOR STATE and we can only give greetings and good wishes to the KKR team, has she forgotten that because of this act of hers of inviting the whole of the city during working hours to Eden Gardens, she is just making the city poorer?"
"Business hours are being wasted felicitating Mr Shah Rukh Khan and the KKR team mates. Work is getting hampered beyond tolerance levels and will result in a downward graph for Kolkata and for India on a bigger picture if viewed," she added. Another woman entrepreneur, who heads a chemical company, complained that she was unable to go about the daily business as the city had come to a standstill.
"At the end of the month targets have to be achieved, collections made and salaries to be given. Each hour is a loss to not just us but I am guessing to all businesses. It is only an IPL trophy won in the fifth year with very few Bengali players in the team," she told IANS, also not wishing to be identified fearing retaliation from ruling Trinamool Congress cadres.
"Why is the city so starved of achievements that an IPL trophy calls for a standstill of the entire city? I am so disappointed that we Kolkatans have to resort to this and make a fool of ourselves," she added.