Agartala: Life in Left-ruled Tripura was affected Monday as some of the opposition parties called a dawn-to-dusk strike to protest alleged irregularities during the election for the state`s two Lok Sabha seats.
Most Markets, shops and business establishments in four of the eight districts remained closed, attendance in government and semi-government offices and banks was thin, while roads were deserted. Vehicles, except those of security forces, remained off the roads.
The Tripura Pragatisheel Gramin Congress (TPGC), a breakaway faction of the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) separately called the strike while the main opposition Congress supported it.
The ruling Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the opposition Trinamool Congress opposed the shutdown.
"Except some stray incidents of clashes between rival political parties, the strike was largely peaceful. Around 500 protestors were arrested for picketing in different parts of the capital city and in the districts," police spokesman Uttam Bhowmik told IANS.
The arrested include TPGC president Subal Bhowmik and BJP`s state president Sudhindra Dasgupta.
"The shutdown was total and hundred percent successful against the Election Commission`s failure to conduct the polls in the two parliamentary seats in Tripura last month," said Subal Bhowmik, who is the key leader to call the strike.
Activists of the TPGC and BJP and their allies organised rallies and protests in front of government offices and markets here and elsewhere in the state.
The TPGC was formed last year by some disgruntled Congress activists led by former party legislator Subal Bhowmik.
Elaborate security arrangements were made across the state to prevent any untoward incident. Police arrested over a hundred picketers from various parts of the state.
The state government in a notification asked the employees to join their duties, and said, "any violation of the government instructions would be viewed seriously."
Terming the opposition parties` allegation as "imaginary and utterly baseless", ruling CPI-M state secretary Bijan Dhar said: "Of Tripura`s 23 lakh voters, over 20 lakh electorate have cast their votes April 7 and 12."
He said: "The demand of the opposition parties to hold re-election in both the seats was undemocratic, illogical and provocative."
The CPI-M, dominant partner of the ruling Left Front, strongly opposed the strike and urged the people to foil the "conspiracy of the opposition parties".
A record 85 percent of the total 2.38 million electorate cast their vote in Tripura for the two seats -- West Tripura and East Tripura.
According to state chief electoral officer Ashutosh Jindal, over 86 percent of the 1.2 million electorate voted in the West Tripura constituency while 84 percent of the 1.13 million electorate voted in East Tripura.