Mixed Response Across India To Anti-government Protest
New Delhi: A shutdown called against the government’s economic measures Thursday evoked a mixed response nationwide, with life badly hit in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat and Karnataka.
A majority of traders across the country downed shutters against the central government’s decision to allow FDI in retail sector, hike diesel prices and cap the number of cooking gas cylinders to families.
In the capital, a major demonstration against the FDI policy called by traders saw leaders of the Left and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) share the same stage. “The tragedy is that our prime minister (Manmohan Singh) has begun to worship the US,” Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said to loud cheers.
“This is only the beginning, our struggle will continue till the decision is reversed,” added BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
However, the response to the strike call in markets and on the streets was partial in Delhi. Some traders opened their shops while public transport and Metro rail services were normal.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav courted arrest along with Left leaders along with hundreds of supporters.
In Mumbai, the strike had a partial response. But traders in other parts of Maharashtra overwhelmingly joined the shutdown. Mumbai suburban trains, BEST buses and flights were normal as NDA ally Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena did not join the protest due to the 10-day Ganeshotsav.
In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the protests crippled normal life. SP activists hit the streets in Uttar Pradesh even as BJP workers enforced the strike across the country’s most populous state. Rail and road traffic were badly hit across Bihar, with thousands of ruling JD-U and BJP activists taking to the streets. Slogan-shouting JD-U activists forcibly stopped trains.
Life came to a virtual standstill in West Bengal, though the ruling Trinamool Congress opposed the strike, as the Left parties sponsored the shutdown and so did the BJP.
Streets in Kolkata were deserted as people preferred to be indoors. Suburban train services were hit. Government and business offices recorded thin attendance.
In Odisha, where the ruling Biju Janata Dal is not joining the protest, shops downed shutters in many places including Bhubhaneshwar and Cuttack, the main retail buiness hub in the state.
In Tamil Nadu, where the UPA ally DMK joined the strike call, the protest was partial as the ruling AIADMK did not back the shutdown.
In Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, the shutdown was partial, though there were reports of NDA volunteers forcing shopkeepers to shut down. Commercial establishments were closed in parts of Himachal Pradesh. Truckers joined the strike call.
The BJP-ruled Karnataka and the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh too witnessed an overwhelming support for the ‘bandh’. Similar reports came from Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Gujarat.
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