48-hour long Bharat Bandh hits non-BJP states

Monday, 28 March 2022 (12:42 IST)
New Delhi: A 48-hour long nationwide shutdown called by various trade unions to protest against Central government's policies and inflation began on Monday, with non-BJP states like Kerala, West Bengal seeing complete disruption while even Assam in the Northeast witnessing luke warm response.

Essential services related to banking, transportation, railways and electricity was affected across states as the Bandh started at 6 am.

The call was given by a joint forum of central trade unions to protest against the Centre's policies affecting workers, farmers, and people.

Farmers will actively participate in the strike, said the umbrella body Sanyukt Kisan Morcha that had for a year taken the national capital on siege from November 2020 to December 2021.

The All Indian Trade Union Congress told the media on Sunday they were expecting mass mobilisation of at least 20 crore formal and informal workers on the two days.

Members from the Left Front gathered in huge numbers and blocked railway tracks at Jadavpur Railway Station in Kolkata.

Roads in the Kerala capital city Thiruvananthapuram wore deserted looks. Only emergency services have been excluded in the southern state. A few people were injured while trying to put a rail block in the state.

The SKM stated on Monday that farmers will actively participate in the two-day Bharat Bandh to protest against government policies.

Maharashtra has invoked MESMA to bar state-run electricity companies' employees to join protests, even as the Union Power Ministry had asked all state units on Sunday to remain prepared with contingency plans.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), as its electricity consumption has gone up and it was already seeing shortage of coal.

As was the situation Rajasthan, whose Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot recently paid visit to Chhattisgarh to seek smooth supply.

The All India Bank Employees Association have called for an all-India bank strike on both days. This is the first major strike after the recently concluded assembly elections in five states and the year long farmers' agitation that ended December 8, 2021.

The trade unions-called bandh evoked mixed response in different parts of the BJP-ruled Assam, with both commercial and passenger vehicles remaining off road.

The Platform of Central Trade Unions and Sectoral Federations and Associations, aims to draw attention to criticism of the government policies, which have been defined as "anti-worker, anti-farmer and anti-national", they said in a statement.

This is the first major protest since BJP wrested power in Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa, while the AAP won Punjab.

The Bharatiya Janata Party said it won the four states because of its pro-people and pro-development agenda.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, a trade union affiliated with the BJP, has refused to participate in the bandh, calling it politically motivated.

The CPI (M) MP moved a motion for suspension of business in Rajya Sabha over Bandh on Monday, but notices over price hikes were dismissed by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, minutes before he adjourned the Upper House till 12 noon.

Amid the ongoing session of Parliament, CPI(M) MP Bikashranjan Bhattacharyya moved the motion for suspension of business in Rajya Sabha under Rule 267 to discuss the issue of the Bharat Bandh. (UNI)

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