Congress Strike Shuts West Bengal
Friday, 17 July 2009

Supporters of Congress party shut down West Bengal with a strike on Friday to protest deadly clashes after the general election with the state's biggest party, the Communists, police said.

The 12-hour strike paralysed railway services and forced airlines to cancel or reschedule flights, police said. After torching several buses on Thursday, Congress party supporters squatted on railway lines and blocked major roads on Friday.

"No vehicle is plying in the state but we have (had) no major untoward incident on Friday," Raj Kanojia, a senior police official, told Reuters.

Supporters of Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), India's biggest left party, have a long history of post-poll violence though they were allies in the federal government until last year.

Supporters of Congress and its ally in the state, the Trinamool Congress party, fought deadly clashes with the communists in West Bengal after the 2009 election ended in May.

Congress won a convincing victory nationwide but the communists lost seats in West Bengal, which has been their bastion for decades.

Shops, schools, factories and offices remained closed on Friday and many employees of IT and outsourcing firms stayed home, as Congress supporters waving party flags took to the streets to stage rallies and processions.


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