Sans Sena, MNS, Bharat bandh turns flop show
The Bharat Bandh called by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Left parties and Samajwadi Party yesterday to protest against diesel price hike, FDI in retail sector and a cap on subsidised LPG cylinders met with a lukewarm response Pune.
Both Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), citing Ganeshotsav, had announced that they would not be a part of this bandh, called by their alliance partner BJP.
BJP city president Vikas Mathkari said the party workers had asked state president Sudhir Mungantiwar to exempt the city from bandh, but Mungantiwar turned down their request and decided to go ahead with the bandh.
“Our workers didn’t hit the street in protest as we didn’t want to disturb the festive mood of the city,” Mathkari said. Though some of the shops on Laxmi Road, Market Yard and Timber Market remained shut, iron and steel market, vegetable mandai and markets in Nana and Bhavani Peth remained open throughout the day.
“Supply of essential commodities such as milk and vegetables was not at all disrupted due to bandh and most of the shops that were shut during the day reopened at 4 pm,” President of Poona Merchant Chamber Ajit Sethiya said.
Jewellery shops remained shut throughout the day, as jeweller community decided to support the bandh. President of Maharashtra State Jewellery Federation and Pune Saraf Association Fatehchand Ranka said jewellers kept their shops shut to protest against the Shop and Establishment Act.
“Even if we close our shops just for a day, we suffer a tremendous loss. But it was necessary to close our shops for the entire day to support the bandh,” said Ranka.
The bandh did affect functioning of schools, as parents refrained from sending their children to schools. “The total strength of our school is 1,200 out of which about 400 students were absent,” Kataria High School’s headmistress Deepti Chivte said. The school operates four buses to pick up and drop students, and the services remained unaffected, Chivte said.
“As the news regarding today’s bandh was doing rounds since last week, our school witnessed a lot of absentees. Hardly 30 per cent students were present,” Abhinav Marathi Medium School Principal Ujwala Chaphekar said. On the other hand, University of Pune (UoP), SSC Board office and Pune PMC Education Board remained unaffected by the bandh. “It’s a routine day for us. All academic and administrative work was done as per schedule,” UoP Deputy Registrar for Exam Department Vitthal Sathe said.
“We are very happy that this time not a single glass of any of the PMPML buses was smashed by protesters. The response from the commuters was low as compared to other working days. People preferred commuting via private vehicles. Hence the number of commuters was low by 20 per cent to 30 per cent. But despite the low response we did not cancel any of the buses and provided uninterrupted service,” PMPML Public Relations Officer Pravinsingh Pardeshi said. On the other hand, despite the bandh all the State Transportation buses received higher response from commuters in the morning.
“Yesterday was a holiday for all working class people. So to go back to their respective workplaces there were many commuters in the morning. Reservation was full for all the buses in the morning. Pune-Mumbai buses also received an overwhelming response. We haven’t cancelled a single trip and no incident of stone pelting occurred in the city or on its outskirt,” Swargate Depot Manager Vijay Divate said.
Railway authorities too confirmed that trains service remained unaffected. A day prior to yesterday’s bandh, the autorickshaw drivers had assured parents that their services will remain unaffected. “School authorities had asked students to travel at their own risk. But all the auto-rickshaw drives provided the service to students as well as other commuters. We haven’t participated in the bandh,” President of Auto-rickshaw Federation Bapu Bhave said.