Nineteen Left parties in West Bengal on Sunday held a massive rally and procession in the city to protest war in Iraq, disrupting life on an otherwise laid-back Sunday.
The state Left Front chairman Biman Bose flagged off the mammoth procession by releasing a bunch of colourful balloons from a dais near Akashbani Bhavan in the presence of leaders of his party CPI (M), besides those from the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc.
Effigies of George W Bush and Tony Blair were burnt by the angry protesters.
The participants, carrying placards and tableaux, then began their procession, singing peace songs and shouting slogans against what they described as a "barbaric attack against humanity".
"How many lives to a gallon?" cried a placard.
The rally's star attraction was former state Chief Minister and veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, though he left after walking a few steps.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also walked along with the precisionists for some time.
Many of his cabinet colleagues, leftist MPs, MLAs and political party activists also walked shoulder-to-shoulder in the procession together with famous personalities including film-maker Mrinal Sen, singer-actress Ruma Guha Thakurta, theatre personalities Sova Sen, Bibhas Chakraborty, mime exponent Jogesh Dutta and magician P C Sorcar.
As the precisionists inched their way from Akashvani Bhavan to Deshbandhu Park, a few kilometers away in north Kolkata, traffic in the city came to a grinding halt.
Public transport was scanty during the day on account of the procession.