Bengaluru: The decision by the ruling Congress as well as some opposition parties to conduct protests on Monday against demonetisation will deal another blow to Karnataka, which has seen at least five days of bandhs, protests and strikes—some accompanied by violence—in the last four months.
Coupled with long weekends and the holiday season, productivity in the second half this year has already been low. The state has had to endure at least three bandhs or non-working days in September alone over unfavourable judgements in the Cauvery water sharing issue and the protests and violence that followed.
Though the trade union strike on 2 September was conducted countrywide, in Karnataka, bandhs over the Mahadayi and Cauvery waters, garment workers’ strike in April and bus workers’ strike in July paralysed Bengaluru and other parts of the state for many days.
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Bus services were affected for many days after the 12 September violence in Bengaluru and other parts of the state following the Cauvery verdict, which ended with at least 100 vehicles from Tamil Nadu burnt and at least two people killed.
Though the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state has not officially supported a bandh on Monday, it has said there will not be any work in the ongoing winter session of the state legislature currently underway in Belagavi.
The session was to end on 2 December but legislators will now work on Saturday to compensate for Monday, the government said.
The entire state government machinery moves to Belagavi for at least 10 days to discuss problems faced by North Karnataka.
Dinesh Gundu Rao, working president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) said the government did not support the bandh but had decided against holding the session on Monday as a “precautionary” measure as many legislators would have problems travelling to Belagavi.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has slammed the government for the plans not to meet on Monday, while the Janata Dal (secular) has supported the protest. Members from BJP walked out of a Business Advisory Committee meeting on Friday in protest against the decision. “For a politically motivated issue, the government postponing the legislature is not acceptable. We have opposed it inside the house and will oppose it outside,” former Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar told reporters in Belagavi on Friday.
As a Congress-ruled state, many from Karnataka believe there could be an impact since the party’s central leadership has been part of the opposition’s charge against demonetisation.
Congress workers will hold ‘Aakrosh Divas’ rallies across the state on Monday.
Auto and taxi associations, among others, have not supported the bandh.
M. Manjunath, president of Adarsh Auto Union in Bengaluru said they will carry out operations as usual and cannot afford to support this bandh. “We are not supporting this bandh. We have had enough,” he said. Banks are expected to carry out normal operations, a senior official from public sector lender Vijaya Bank said on Sunday.