The indefinite strike has worsened the woes of the aam-aadmi (common man) in the state ahead of the Bharat Bandh called by BJP-led NDA protesting against the recent fuel price hike in the country. NDA called for Bharat Bandh on Thursday, Sept 20 which may mar the celebration of Ganesha Puja which will kick off on Wednesday.
Sources informed that nearly 37,000 private buses were kept off the roads leaving 40 lakh passengers in several parts of Kolkata and in other districts of the state puzzled.
Taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers took advantage of the crisis and demanded high fares from the passengers. Heavy rush was there for availing the Metro Rail and ferry services in Kolkata. According to Transport Minister Madan Mitra, number of state-run buses on the roads would be increased to cushion the effect of the strike.
Recently, people in Karnataka also experienced a similar situation when state-run buses observed strike for two consecutive days demanding salary hike.
With 90 per cent buses choosing to keep off roads, office-goers, students and the general public were having a bad time. The auto-rickshaw drivers and private bus operators were making use of the situation and fleecing commuters who had no option but to rely on them. The private buses and cabs commissioned by the state government was grossly insufficient to handle the people. As many as 2,000 private buses and over 20,000 cabs were used in this regard.
However, the strike was called off after the government agreed to consider the 30 per cent pay hike demand. The consensus was reached following a marathon meeting between Transport Minister R Ashok and various bus unions late Friday night. An official announcement is yet to be made in this regard.
After all these bus strikes, another nation-wide strike is on cards as LK Advani has already announced that they will hold a country-wide protest on Sept 20 protesting against the central government's decision to hike diesel price and allow FDI in multi-brand retail.
Meanwhile, Left parties also called for a general strike on Sept 20 against Centre's two-pronged "anti-people" decision - hiking diesel prices and limiting LPG numbers and opening the retail sector to foreign players.