Mumbai and rest of the Maharashtra may come to a standstill today with the Shiv Sena and the BJP determined to make the bandh a success. The call for a Bharat bandh was given by many parties across the countries to demand a rollback of the steep petrol price hike made recently. Transport services and businesses are likely to be badly affected in Mumbai and other parts of the state as workers of the Sena, BJP along with the RPI ally will be out on the streets to enforce the bandh.
Meanwhile, the government has pressed its machinery into action to ensure that law and order is maintained and essential services are not disrupted.
Terming the petrol price hike as an anti-people decision, the NDA had called for a Bharat bandh, while Left parties decided to observe the day as ‘All India Protest Day’ to be marked by strikes, picketing, 'rasta rokos' and rallies. Though Mumbai’s taxi and auto rickshaw union leaders have announced that they will not be participating in the bandh, most taxi and auto drivers have themselves decided not to venture out on the roads fearing violence and damage to their vehicles.
Top leaders of the Shiv Sena met yesterday afternoon to discuss preparations for the bandh, even as the Sena, BJP and RPI alliance officially announced that they would not be blocking suburban trains. However, some Shivsainiks made it clear that there could be blockading of roads in some parts of the city and suburbs as well, and demonstrations will be staged on the rail tracks to block trains.
The announcement for the Bharat bandh was made by senior BJP leader LK Advani and JD (U) President Sharad Yadav last week, in their capacity as NDA’s acting chairman and convener respectively. Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has also on the same day supported the bandh.
Significantly, social crusader Anna Hazare too has entered the arena by supporting the bandh. Speaking to reporters Anna said, “Even as corruption and inflation have made life difficult for common man, the government’s decision to hike petrol prices has only added fuel to fire. My activists will support the Bharat Bandh not only in Mumbai and Maharashtra but even in other states”.
At the time of going to the press, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena maintained that it would not participate in the bandh.