Mumbai gives Bharat Bandh a miss

Mumbai’s response tepid to nationwide Jan Aakrosh protests against demonestisation move

Congress workers at a rally against BJP’s demonetisation move at Kherwadi Junction on Monday. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Congress workers at a rally against BJP’s demonetisation move at Kherwadi Junction on Monday. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

The opposition would have hoped for a better showing from the city at the nationwide call for a bandh, but Mumbai, it seems, was not interested. After it became evident that Mumbai’s response to the bandh was ‘thanda’, parties went into damage control mode.

Congress and NCP workers staged a protest march from Kalina to Kherwadi, but it was the only big show of force in the opposition’s plan for the Bharat Bandh
Congress and NCP ˆworkers staged a protest march from Kalina to Kherwadi, but it was the only big show of force in the opposition’s plan for the Bharat Bandh

Shiv-Sena spokesperson and MP Arvind Sawant, said, “A bandh was never announced. Why are people going to add to their existing problems and stop all their work? Though we are in alliance, we have also opposed the idea of demonetization. Uddhav Thackeray has made excellent efforts in helping the common man, that’s all I would say.”

Also Read: What bandh? It's business as usual in Mumbai

Even though Mumbaikars were not in high attendance at the big Jan Aakrosh, police was asked to stay on alert at sensitive areas
Even though Mumbaikars were not in high attendance at the big Jan Aakrosh, police was asked to stay on alert at sensitive areas

Congress stages rally
Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam, while addressing a ‘Jan Aakrosh’ rally near Kalina, said, “This rally is for the people who are suffering due to demonetisation. There will be problems to people on the route where the rally is being staged, but I would like to tell people that the traffic jam is a smaller problem than the suffering due to demonetisation,” adding, “Now the protest would happen at ground level as the ward leaders from our party would protest at each ward.”

Read Story: No Bharat bandh today, only protests over demonetisation, says Congress

Despite a lukewarm response from the common man, who went about business as usual, the rally saw thousands of congress party workers who raised slogans against PM Narendra Modi. It kicked off from Kalina, Santacruz east and went on till the Kherwadi Junction in Bandra east. Prominent congress leaders like Nirupam and ex-CM Ashok Chavan was in attendance.

Other opposition
Meanwhile, though MNS leaders were tight-lipped and refused to comment on the bandh, the NCP came out in full support of the Congress. NCP leader Nawab Malik said, “If people are not ready, one is not going to forcefully drag them to the rally. Right now, it isn’t about profit and loss of one party or the other; it’s time to fight against the wrong. The government isn’t ready to see the problem, they don’t even accept that demonetisation is killing the common man. What does a party do in a situation like this? Of course it will come out in protest.”

City goes about business
Barring these few protest marches, the busy-as-ever city didn’t miss a step in getting around to life as usual. All government offices remained open as did banks, private organisations and schools and colleges.

Regardless of the response, the police were given orders to take precautionary measures at sensitive spots. An inkling to the lukewarm response had begun to trickle in yesterday itself when many organisations said they would refrain from participating in the ‘Bharat bandh’.

“Schools are not supporting the bandh and it was communicated to parents to avoid any confusion,” said Prashant Redij, Mumbai spokesperson for Maharashtra School Principals’ Association.

Students of Mumbai University, appearing for semester examinations, were anxious about hindrances in reaching their centres, but faced no problem.

Roshan Shirwankar, an MA Political Science student, said, “The university issued a statement on Sunday, stating that there will not be any change in the examination timetable in light of the Bharat bandh. We were tensed initially, but we faced no in reaching colleges.”

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