The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena appear to be looking in different directions on the decision for Bharat Bandh on May 31. The BJP and its alliance parties have called for a nationwide bandh against the growing inflation and the recently increased petrol prices. Shiv Sena leaders in the city are now claiming that they have not had any meeting with BJP leaders and therefore their stand is not yet decided.
On the other hand, city BJP leaders say that they already had a meeting with NDA’s constituent parties.
According to a source in the BJP who also attended the coordination meeting held by city unit of the party a few days ago, leaders have told workers to damage PMPML buses early in the morning so that public transport will be affected , ensuring a successful bandh.
In the past however, the BJP has rarely been seen indulging in damaging public property. But the party insider claims that this time around, leaders have advised this action to make the bandh a success.
BJP city chief Vikas Mathkari refuted the claim and said while explaining their strategy for the bandh, “Although our workers will hit the street in protest, the nature of it will be peaceful. Our workers will appeal to traders to support us by shutting their shops. We are also expecting citizens to support the bandh so that the UPA government, which is responsible for the nationwide inflation will get the message.”
Mathkari added that the party held a meeting with leaders of alliance parties on the issue and they were ready with their support.
Shiv Sena city chief Nana Wadekar said that the party’s stand is yet to be confirmed and a decision would be taken only at state level. He denied any kind of city level coordination meeting organised with the BJP. Ashok Harnawal, group leader of the Sena in PMC agreed with Wadekar and said, “Although the strategies for the bandh have not yet been decided, if the decision would be taken at state level to participate in the bandh, then the Sena would make the protest successful with its own ‘style’.”
When contacted, Sena senior leader Dr Neelam Gorhe refused to comment.
The MNS has not revealed its cards yet on whether the party would support NDA in holding the nationwide bandh.
“We will take a decision whether to support the bandh or not after a discussion with Raj Saheb,” said Anil Shidore, MNS state general secretary.
Joint Commissioner of Police Sanjeevkumar Singhal said a large number of personnel will be on the streets to ensure no public property is damaged. “The police will take strict action if protesters get violent,” Singhal said.
PMPML PRO Deepaksingh Pardeshi said that buses were the usual targets during bandhs. “Looking back at the past, buses were always targeted for the first projection of a successful bandh. We have instructed our bus drivers and conductors to immediately make complaints in the police station if buses are targeted,” Pardeshi said.
He gave the assurance that PMPML services would not be affected on bandh day.