The Bharat Bandh against Centre’s decision to hike diesel price and allow FDI in multi-brand retail evoked strong response in most parts of the country with protestors taking to the streets in many cities raising slogans and blocking rail and road traffic. The NDA — except Shiv Sena — and other political parties and formations like the Left, DMK and Samajwadi Party are staging the nation-wide protest with support from several trade bodies.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is crucial to the survival of the Congress-led UPA Government following the Trinamool Congress’ decision to withdraw support to the ruling coalition, also held a protest with Left leaders at the Jantar Mantar on over FDI and diesel price hike.
Normal life was affected in many parts of the country on Thursday as protesters blocked railway lines on many trunk routes besides blocking road traffic in cities.
Besides the NDA, the Bharat Bandh is being supported by Left, Samajwadi Party, DMK and others. Many traders association and motor unions are also supporting the move in many states.
In the Capital, the BJP planned to block roads at 100 spots across the city. However, the bandh evoked little response. Metro services were running on time. Autos and buses were operating though auto drivers at New Delhi Railway station staged a protest and refused to ply.
Buses of state-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) were on roads in large numbers. Small shops were seen open in the morning hours though big markets like Khan Market, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk and Kashmere Gate were shut. Protestors stopped trains in Mathura, Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad and Lucknow.
The Left’s call for a 12-hour bandh in West Bengal virtually shut down the state’s capital. Flights were not affected, but some trains were running late after they were blocked by protestors. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had asked the Left not to go ahead with the strike, arguing that it will financially hurt a state that’s already bankrupt.
In Bihar, BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad and CP Thakur have been detained in Patna for protesting against the government. Several other opposition leaders have also been detained.
Activists from the BJP and its allies gathered at railway stations across Bihar and forcibly stopped train services, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.
In BJP-ruled Bangalore, the bandh was more or less complete. The IT companies remained closed. There was hardly any public transport available. Shops, cinemas and schools were not open. In Chennai, the DMK supported the strike. Left parties and the BJP staged protest on railway tracks.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, Prakash Karat, AB Bardhan, Sitaram Yechury and Chandrababu Naidu court arrest in Delhi. BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu was detained in Hyderabad, Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar were arrested in Bangalore.