The Left Front rally on Saturday brought Kolkata to a standstill, reminding citizens once again of the abrupt disruptions to normal life during the previous regime. The rally left commuters fuming, with buses, taxis and even ambulances stranded and patients thoroughly harrowed.
The rally, which started from Rani Rashmoni Road, wound its way through AJC Bose Road and converged at Deshbandhu Park near Shyambazar five-point crossing. However, for more than two hours, traffic movement throughout the city remained affected. From schoolchildren returning to their homes to office-goers, the rally did not spare anyone.
"Traffic movement was affected at KC Das crossing, Lenin Sarani, Sealdah, Moulali, Rajabazar, Shyambazar and Central Avenue. Howrah-bound buses were diverted through Strand Road,” said Dilip Adak, deputy commissioner Traffic-I.
The rally was called in protest against the evils of imperialism, but degenerated into a desperate show of strength for the Left Front, worried over dwindling numbers. Insiders claimed that senior leaders wanted to verify whether the Left Front still played a major role in the politics of the state or not.
“We wanted to project a united face of various Left Front constituents as some of the leaders of Forward Bloc and RSP have often spoken out publicly against the CPI(M). We also wanted to show the people of Bengal that the Left Front might be down but not out. Our senior leaders wanted to check the mood of the people and whether we are still acceptable to them. With panchayat polls round the corner, it was a very important exercise for us,” said a senior CPI(M) leader on condition of anonymity.
On Thursday, CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose said, “Since the rally will be massive, we apologise to citizens in advance, if they face difficulty in commuting. Those who are supposed to go out of the city on that day are advised to proceed to railway stations and airport at least one hour before schedule.”
True to his words, the rally succeeded in holding the city at ransom. To make matters worse, the meeting was held at Deshbandhu Park opposite RG Kar hospital, inconveniencing patients with mikes blaring.