If convention were to be followed, then after a lazy weekend, we should all have been beating our Monday blues and rushing to office. But it turned out to be an extended weekend for many across the nation due to ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the entire opposition against spiraling prices of fuel and essential commodities. The ‘bandh’ was called to express the ire of the common man against the government. But it all went in vain as the common man became the biggest victim of this ‘bandh’.
All through the day, the ‘bandh’ disrupted normal life causing huge problems to everyone. The office-goers couldn’t commute, as roads were blocked by the demonstrators. They had to literally fight their way to office. The poor daily wagers lost on their day’s income. At places the ‘bandh’ turned violent as demonstrators forced people to shut shops and even tried to set vehicles on fire. The common man, instead of feeling that someone was fighting for their cause, was in reality too frightened
to step out.
Yes, it is the responsibility of an active opposition to take up issues in the interest of the common man. But is this the right way to go about it? Is it right to hurt your own economy, to destroy your own public property and strike fear and discomfort in the hearts of the common man?
In New Delhi, several roads were blocked causing huge traffic snarls; even the Metro services were disrupted with politicians entering the Metro trains and attempting to stall them. In Mumbai, the local trains, the auto and taxis were halted. The city of Kolkata simply came to a standstill. Same was the case in many other cities of India. The common man was simply helpless. The passengers at railway stations and the airports were worst hit as they were stranded for hours. There was hardly any co-ordination between the political parties with BJP-led NDA and the Left parties calling for two different ‘bandhs’ on the same day.
Political parties didn’t even bother to think about the loss incurred by the nation during the ‘bandh’. The nation lost approximately Rs 10,000-13000 crores in that single day. One obviously wonders whether these politicians had the country’s interests in mind or their own! Who benefited from the ‘bandh’? At the end of the day, the ‘bandh’ was a total failure as the Central government did not budge from its stand of no roll back.
I feel the culture of ‘bandhs’ is really just a nuisance and does more harm than good. Sometime back, when I visited Assam, I was told that they have ‘bandhs’ every now and then by various parties and even terrorist organizations. I was surprised that the people had not celebrated events like Independence Day and Republic Day for years in Assam as terrorist outfits always call for a ‘bandh’ on these days. People just stay at home for fear of terror attacks. It’s such a pity.
The irony of the situation is that the Left government in West Bengal was most pro-active during Bharat bandh, even though it is the one which imposes the highest state cess on petro products. In fact, regions which have Left influence like West Bengal and Kerala are affected by frequent ‘bandhs’. How can a nation ever make progress in such a scenario? A ‘bandh’ is now more like off day. It serves no other purpose.
Is strike the only way to demand something? Can’t politicians find a better solution without resorting to ‘bandhs’? Nowadays, even peaceful protests turn violent in no time. Politicians and their goons start destroying public property. People even get beaten up for not complying. So the common man feels the way to be safe is to stay indoors and not get involved in any way.
We have to understand that ‘bandhs’ are against national interest and cause immense inconvenience. If everyone resorts to ‘bandhs’ as a tool to protest and press every demand, then soon the nation will only shut its doors to progress and prosperity.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)