People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 38

September 23, 2012


General Strike Evokes Huge Response

Across the Country


As we go to press, we had received the following state reports on the September 20 Protest Day. More reports will appear in the coming issue.



LIFE virtually came to a standstill in West Bengal on September 20 in the 12-hour general strike called by the Left Front in the state. Rail and road communication was disrupted, business establishments were mostly closed. In the government offices, there was very thin attendance despite threat from the state government.


Suburban train services were hit with opposition activists squatting on the railway tracks in various stations under Eastern and South Eastern Railways.


Streets in Kolkata wore a deserted look, as people generally preferred to stay indoors. Private bus services and taxis were almost non-existent, though a few government-run buses were seen on the roads. The Kolkata Metro Railway services were normal, but a spokesperson said there were very few commuters.


There is perceptible response to the call particularly among the small traders and shops. Shops and market places remained closed in most of the areas of the state.


The strike was near total in industrial areas. Factories and manufacturing units remained non functional.


The strike exposed the duplicity of Trinamool Congress. While they vociferously opposed the diesel price hike and the opening up of retail for FDI and decided to come out of the UPA on these issues, the state government and the ruling party came all out against the strike in the state. The chief minister herself issued threats to employees, workers and transporters. TMC activists attacked strike supporters in many places. They tried to forcibly open shops and attack on the road blockades. The people of West Bengal however rejected the terrorisation and strongly registered their protest against the policies of the centre.


Hundreads of processions were organised by the Left parties throughout the state. Led by its chairman Biman Basu and leader of opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, the Left Front took out a large procession from central Kolkata's Moulali to Mallickbazar.


"People have supported this strike spontaneously to protect their own future. If the government does not roll back its decisions, there will be a bigger movement in the coming days," Basu said.



ON September 20, protest marches were held in front of central government offices in all the 140 assembly segments of Kerala under the banner of LDF. Several hundreds of comrades participated in each centre. The marches were addressed by the state level leaders of the constituents of the LDF. On September 15, hartal was observed in Kerala by the LDF in protest against the central government decisions to increase diesel price, to limit the supply of LPG cylinders and to allow foreign investment in retail trade sector. The hartal was a complete success in Kerala. Therefore, on September 20, protest marches alone were held.



THE 12-hour strike called by the Left Front in Tripura brought the busy life of the state to a complete standstill from 6 AM to 6 PM today.


As a part of the countrywide call of protest action given by the eight Left and secular opposition parties, the Left Front Committee in Tripura had given the call for a dawn to dusk strike in the state to vent protest against unprecedented hike in the price of diesel, limiting the number of subsidised LPG cylinder per family to just six a year and entry of FDI in the retail business.


From the early morning itself the effect of the strike became evident all over the state. The busy streets of Agartala including the ever busy Motorstands at Nagerjala, Radhanagar and ISBT wore a completely deserted look. The shops and markets throughout the state were closed as the merchants and shopkeepers participated in the strike. Schools, colleges, government offices were empty, the state secretariat had run on skeletal staff. There was complete shut down in Bodhjung nagar industrial growth centre and other industrial estates in the state. The tea estates in South, North and Unakoti districts were closed.


No untoward incident was reported from any part of the state as people cutting across political affiliations came forward to register their protest against the anti- people measures of the Congress led UPA government. The Congress party in the state had opposed the strike. However, with the thumping success of the strike, it was clear that the people had thoroughly rejected their call.


CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar, on behalf of the Tripura Left Front Committee congratulated the people for making the strike a complete success. He said we congratulate the people of the state who, irrespective of their political affiliation, have made the strike a complete success while maintaining the atmosphere of peace. He called upon the central government to pay heed to the anguished protest of the people and immediately roll back these anti people measures. Otherwise, protests shall be further intensified.



THE CPI(M), CPI and AIFB had appealed to all sections of the people to participate in the protest day in a massive way. The hartal and general strike evoked a good response in major markets, trading centres and industrial hubs.


Traders throughout the state had downed the shutters of their establishments. Autorikshaws, private buses and lorries were off the road. At the call of the CITU, AITUC and other central trade unions and the Labour Progressive Front (LPF), the organised workers took part in the strike and the public transport maintained only a skeleton service in view of the strike of the transport workers. Goods movement was affected because of the lorry transport strike. Almost in all the major towns of the state, there was picketing in front of the government offices. In Chennai, there were picketing programmes in three places – Central Railway Station, Anna Road post office and Guindy Junction. G Ramakrishnan, U Vasuki and Selvasingh of the CPI (M) and D Pandian of the CPI led these programmes.  In many places, the cadres of JD(S), DMDK, MDMK, MMK, DPI, PT and some smaller parties too had taken part in the protest. In more than 200 places, picketing programmes were held. More than 50,000 protesters were arrested. In certain places, traders’ organisations conducted separate picketing programmes and got arrested. The middle class organisations held demonstrations and conducted poster campaign in many places. In Chennai and other district centres, lawyers’ union participated in the programme. Chennai law college students and few other arts college students had boycotted the classes. The DMK had given a call for participation in the protest at the last minute. However, the cadres of the DMK are reported to have participated in the programmes given by them separately in large numbers. Their trade union wing LPF too had endorsed the call and observed the protest.



THE bandh was near total in Pudhucherry. While private buses and autos went off the roads, government-run buses operated under convoy protection. All shops and business establishments remained closed. Government schools functioned with less attendance of students and private schools remained closed. 



The people overwhelmingly supported the protest call given by eight Left and Democratic parties. In Karnataka, the CPI(M), JD(S), CPI, AIFB and Dalit Sangharsha Smithi (Ambedkarvada) jointly endorsed the all India call and strove to implement the same.


Bandh was total. Buses including private transport, lorries and autos were off the road. Hotels and shops did not open. No work took place in factories. All the cinema houses were closed throughout the state. Life almost came to a standstill.


Bandh was observed not only in district centres but also in taluka centres also. In Bellary, CPI and CPI(M) jointly staged a road block. In Hospet, hartal was observed at the initiative of the CPI(M). Enraged by this, the BJP government’s police clashed with the protesters who were undeterred by their attack. In Tumkur and Dharwar, JD(S) and Left parties activists jointly organised the picketing of BSNL offices. In Tumkur, the protesters were arrested and released later. In Mangalore, the demonstration was held in front of DC office where the leaders of CPI(M) and JD(S) addressed. In Ramdurga of Belgaum district, the activists of CPI(M) and JD(S) jointly mobilised the people and shops were closed. Bandh was total in Chikballapur and Kolar. In Mandya, apart from total bandh, a human chain was organised by JD(S) and CPI(M). Bandh was observed in all the talukas of Udupi and Koppal district. Bangalore also witnessed total bandh. Thousands of activists belonging to JD(S), CPI(M), CPI, AIFB and DSS assembled before the Town Hall in Bangalore and raised powerful slogans against the central government as well as BJP led state government. Agitators brought a bullock cart and empty gas cylinders symbolically protesting the steep increase in diesel prices and cap on subsidised gas cylinders. G V Sriram Reddy, secretary of CPI(M), P G R Sindhia, state working president, Jantha Dal (S), P V Lokesh, state secretary of CPI, G R Shivashankar, state president of AIFB, Mavalli Shankar, state convener of DSS (Ambedkarvada) and others addressed the gathering and called upon the people to maintain the unity for future struggles.