The BJP, Shiv Sena and other political parties who waged the Bharat Bandh yesterday are in a jubilant mood, as they celebrate the flair with which they managed to disrupt the lives of common people in the city and bring business and commerce to a grinding halt. The deserted streets, with their lines of shops with downed shutters, brought great exhilaration to party leaders and workers, who rejoiced at the success of the bandh and insisted that it was a sign of the common man’s solidarity to their methods.
The first symbolic gesture in the tableau of protest included parades of bullock carts and horses, an implication that these would have to be the new modes of transport, if petrol prices continued to skyrocket. Motorbikes weren’t ridden but dramatically dragged along the desolate streets by protestors. Party workers and politicians also courted arrests.
The Congress party, the leading party at the Centre, maintained that the bandh was illegal. “A Bharat bandh is an illegal and unethical attempt undertaken by the BJP and other parties to hold the lives of people to ransom. Despite understanding well that the UPA did not have any other alternative but to hike the price of petrol, the BJP and other parties are misguiding people by trying to present an unrealistic and exaggerated picture. This is a venture motivated to create unrest among people and fuel distrust of the UPA,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant. BJP president Sudhir Mungatiwar, however, insisted that the bandh had illustrated and proved beyond doubt that people were upset with nonfunctional governments at the state and Centre.
“People who are already reeling under the impact of price rise actively took part in the bandh, and have shown their clear displeasure towards the Congress-led UPA government’s decision to hike petrol prices,” he said. Shiv Sena spokesperson Rahul Narvekar said, “People had shut their shops of their own accord, voluntarily participating in the bandh against the ineffectual government that doesn’t pay heed to problems faced by them. Even in small villages, market places were shut. The government will pay the price in the forthcoming elections for their insensitive attitude towards the common public,” said Narvekar.
'Like a govt holiday'
Everything has been calm and for most people it is like a government holiday.
— S Vishwanathan, 50, newspaper vendor
Because of the bandh, I had to walk for nearly 4 km from Andheri station to Seepz, in order to reach my work place. The rickshaws weren’t plying and the buses were infrequent.
— Suraj Sawant, 25, medical coder
The rickshaws weren’t plying at all. I had to walk to the college where I work, and was late, which affected my attendance record.
— Sanjay Turambekar, 38, lab assistant
Our eatery has suffered losses today. As people did not venture out much, business was terrible.
— Pradeep Kamble, 24, cashier in a Churchgate eatery
— Nivedita Dargalkar and Anuradha Varanasi