Cricket lovers have some wiggle room for the strike in Bengal on Thursday, but not so the students. The strike - called separately by the Left Front, the BJP and trade unions -- coincides with an IPL match at Eden Gardens and university exams.
The only difference - the match is in the evening and the exam during the day. The Left and the BJP strikes, both against poll violence, will be over by evening. So while match-goers might have some unofficial respite, students will face trouble getting to the exam hall.
The trade unions, which have called an all-India 24-hour transport strike, and the two political parties, say students will not be stopped if they want to sit for exams. How they reach the exam centre, however, is their business.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has promised that no strike or bandh will be allowed, setting a collision course with the opposition.
"There will be no bandh tomorrow in Bengal. No bandh in Kolkata, no bandh in the districts," she declared at a rally in Nadia district. She urged the shopkeepers to keep the shops open, promising to pay compensation in case a house of a shop is attacked.
The state government has issued a circular, making it mandatory for all government offices to stay open and employees to attend. If absent, they will lose a day's pay. Institutions that take government grants must also function.
Stung by her confrontationist stand, the opposition is determined to go ahead with the strike. Surya Kanta Mishra of the CPM said, "I reaffirm that the general strike that has been called will be conducted successfully braving all attacks."
Caught in between, the students are having nightmares, even though the university authorities say if there are too many absentees, they will consider holding fresh exams.
"We will possibly have to leave quite early, so we can find some transport... lot of students are confused, nervous but let's see," Rohan Pariyar, who has to sit for his environmental sciences exam.
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