New Delhi: Normal life was thrown out of gear in Left bastions as the red brigade imposed a 12-hour bandh in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura against the Centre’s fuel price hike.
The bandh affected traffic movement in Kolkata as almost all vehicles went off the roads. Shops, markets and educational institutions also remained closed. Scheduled examinations of the Calcutta University and Jadhavpur University have been postponed too.
All flights to and from Kolkata are cancelled till 1400 hours IST. Local train services have also been affected.
In Kerala, so far, it's not quite a total standstill. A few buses are running, however schools and colleges are closed.
According to reports, the bandh is more in the rural areas than in the bigger towns and cities. Meanwhile, authorities said, later in the day, public transport will ply with police protection.
Left Front Chairman Biman Bose said the Centre had compelled the Left to take such a drastic decision to call the bandh.
The Central government is also being pressurised from the Right. Th BJP has also asked all its Chief ministers to reduce sales tax on petrol and diesel. The party has organised streets protests against the fuel price hike.
On Thursday morning BJP leaders Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj took a tour in Indore on bullock carts. The obvious message is - if fuel prices are not checked, this is how people will have to travel in near future.
The protest march took place from Ganpathi Chowk to Rajwada Chowk in Indore.
Trinamool Congress also called a 12-hour bandh on Friday on the same issue and dared the CPI-M to withdraw support from the Congress-led UPA government.
The Government on Wednesday hiked petrol and diesel prices by Rs 5 and 3 a litre and that of LPG by Rs 50 a cylinder, while sparing poor man's cooking medium kerosene from any increase.
Left leaders claimed that the price hike is 'anti-people' and would jack up prices of essential commodities further and push the inflation to as high as 10 per cent.
Air and rail traffic affected
Various airlines suspended their operations of outgoing flights from Kolkata during the bandh on Thursday.
Air India sources said they would operate combined flights from Kolkata to all metro cities in the country after the bandh ends in the evening.
Jet Airways said its flights would operate to and from Kolkata in the evening.
To control overcrowding at lounges in the airport, entry of visitors has been banned during the bandh period.
Private air-carrier Kingfisher also announced cancellation and rescheduling of a few Kolkata flights in the wake of the bandh.
(With agency inputs)