A bandh called by NDA, Left parties and SP to protest against diesel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and cap on subsidized LPG on Thursday evoked mixed response as protestors disrupted road and rail traffic in parts of UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha but it had little impact in Mumbai. In Delhi, most of the markets remained closed and vehicular movement was normal though protesters blocked traffic at some places.
Auto rickshaws plied in the city and buses of state-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) were on the roads in large numbers. At New Delhi railway station, auto drivers staged a protests and refused to carry passengers. However, most of the private schools in Delhi remained closed. BJP supporters blocked vehicular movement on Vikas Marg. A BJP spokesperson said the party will be staging protests at around 100 locations in the capital.
Samajwadi Party and BJP workers staged demonstrations and stopped trains at a number of places in Uttar Pradesh. Protestors stopped trains in Mathura, Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad and Lucknow while BJP workers and traders blocked the Agra-Gwalior Highway by burning tyres.
The bandh evoked little response in Mumbai owing to Ganesh festivities across Maharashtra. Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have kept away from the day-long bandh due to the festival.
Road and train services were also hit in several parts of Bihar. A group of BJP workers blocked rail traffic at Patna junction and stopped movement of a number of long distance express and passenger trains.
Life in Kolkata and elsewhere in West Bengal was disrupted due to the 12—hour bandh called by Left parties. Though airport services were normal, train services in Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway were disrupted, officials said. Services of the Metro rail, Kolkata’s lifeline, were normal, officials said.
In Karnataka, the bandh affected normal life as shops and offices chose to remain shut. Only essential commodities like milk and medical services are available but all schools and colleges were closed. The Secretariat in Bangalore wore a deserted look but the high court and lower courts were functioning.
In Congress-ruled Rajasthan, the bandh call got a mixed response. In Jaipur, major markets and business establishments remained closed and public transport was hit partially as many private buses and autorickshaws remained off road.
Reports of similar protests also poured in from other districts including Allahabad where activists of the youth wing of the ruling SP stopped the Bareilly-bound Triveni Express at 5.30 AM on Niranjan railway bridge and also burnt the effigies of the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Senior SP leaders including SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav are likely to hold a protest later in the day against hike in diesel and LPG prices and allowing FDI in retail. The bandh called by NDA and Left parties against the Center’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail and hike in diesel prices evoked a mixed response in Tamil Nadu. No untoward incident was reported so far from across the state and the protest was so far peaceful, police said.
DMK, a key constituent in the Congress-led UPA coalition at the Center, had expressed its support with its labour wing, Labour Progressive Front, participating in Thursday’s protest. Party chief M. Karunanidhi had blamed the Center for further burdening the common man, who was already reeling under the impact of hike in power tariff, bus fares and milk prices effected by the Jayalalithaa government. Meanwhile, a report from Puducherry said the bandh was near total in the Union Territory.