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Bharat Bandh, rail tracks blocked in Bengal, empty streets in Kerala on day 1

This is the first major protest that India is set to witness after assembly elections in five states.

Bharat Bandh, rail tracks blocked in Bengal, empty streets in Kerala on day 1
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A two-day nationwide strike called by a joint forum of central trade unions is likely to affect banking, transport, railways and power services on Monday and Tuesday.

The Bharat Bandh protest, says the Platform of Central Trade Unions and Sectoral Federations and Associations, aims to draw attention to criticism of the government policies, which have been defined as "anti-worker, anti-farmer and anti-national" in a statement.

This is the first major protest that India is set to witness after assembly elections in five states.

The BJPwas able to retain four of five states - Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa - while the AAP won Punjab. The BJP said it won the four states because of its pro-people and pro-development agenda.

In Kerala, all government offices remain closed on the first day of the strike. At some places, protesters stopped those in their private cars too. Empty streets defined the start of the protest in the southern state. Bengal, however, saw demonstrators on streets.

In Bengal, train tracks were blocked by protesters. Visuals shared by news agency ANI showed Left-backed demonstrators on rail tracks in huge numbers at the Jadavpur Railway Station in Kolkata.

About 20 crore protesters are expected to join the Bharat Bandh call. An advisory was issued to all the state government and electricity authorities by the ministry of power on Sunday to ensure 24*7 power supply.

The All India Bank Employees' Association on Sunday said the bank union demands the government to stop privatisation of public sector banks and strengthen them. The country's largest lender SBI and other banks have said that their services may get impacted.

Speedy recovery of bad loans, higher deposit rates by banks, lower service charges on customers as well as restoration of old pension scheme are some other issues that have been raised by the AIBEA. Employees of public sector banks, private banks, foreign banks, cooperative banks and regional rural banks are expected to join the strike, the association said.

In West Bengal, government offices have been told to remain open.

Farmers' body Samyukta Kisan Morcha has also backed the protest call. The Bharat Bandh is also one of the biggest protests since farmers' agitation was called off last year.

The farmers are set to hold the next wave of demonstrations in April. Railways employees and staff in the defence sector are also expected to hold mass mobilisations.

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