Bharat bandh evokes tepid response, except in Kerala
Bengaluru/Chennai/Hyderabad/Kolkata: The nationwide bandh on Monday called in protest against the demonetisation of high-value currency notes by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government seems to have had little impact on south Indian states, except in Kerala.
Shops are open and vehicles are running as usual in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, among other big cities in the region.
In Bengaluru, India’s silicon valley, a three-day big show of information technology and electronics sector is being held as planned. The programme was inaugurated by chief minister Siddaramaiah, whose Congress party is leading the protest against the NDA-led Central government in Delhi.
Dinesh Gundu Rao, working president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), said the government did not support the bandh but has decided against holding the ongoing assembly session in Belagavi, 500km from Bengaluru, on Monday. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has slammed the government for the postponement of assembly session, while the other opposition, Janata Dal (Secular), has supported the move.
Rao said the party workers will hold protest rallies across the state on Monday which he will be inaugurating. However, three-wheeler and taxi associations, among other major trade unions, have not supported the bandh.
Tamil Nadu and Andhra-Telangana region, too, where major parties are united in airing their inconvenience to the public over the demonetisation drive, stands divided over the call for observing a bandh.
Both the ruling parties—the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana and Telugu Desam Party (TDP)—have officially supported demonetisation, but asked the Centre to reduce the inconvenience to the public.
The TDP is an ally of the BJP in the state as well as at the Centre. Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party, the main opposition to the TDP government in Andhra Pradesh, is supporting the bandh call given by the Communist parties on grounds that the Centre has failed to tackle the situation arising out of the demonetisation, though the party, in principle, has welcomed demonetisation.
Like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, it’s business as usual in Tamil Nadu.
Schools, colleges, transport services, private and government organizations were working on Monday in all the three states, except for buses bound for Kerala where local media is reporting that buses are being stopped on the way.
Kerala, where Monday’s protests are focussed on the impact of demonetisation over cooperative banks, is completely shut.
Buses, three-wheeler and even private vehicles are keeping away from streets. Shops and other commercial establishments have not opened their shutters. Many of the universities have cancelled their exams stated for the day. As usual, the local media is rife with stories of tourists getting stranded outside railway stations and airports. However, transport services to temples like Sabarimala, which draws lakhs of people in the ongoing pilgrimage season, are unaffected.
Both the ruling Communists’ Left Democratic Front and the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front are holding protest marches against the paralysis faced by cooperative banks post demonetisation.
There was little impact of bandh in Kolkata. Traffic is thinner than normal but no major disruption reported till 12noon, according to Kolkata Police. Some 2,600 buses and 3,000 taxis are running, according to the administration’s official estimate. Some schools are shut. But attendance at government offices is normal. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had made it mandatory for government employees to turn up for work. A CPM rally led by Surjya Kanta Mishra peacefully passed by vehicular traffic. Mishra had said on Sunday that the Left parties would not push for conventional success of Monday’s bandh, implying that they would not seek a complete shutdown.
Sharan Poovanna from Bengaluru and Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar from Kolkata contributed to this story.