M A I N   N E W S

Anti-UPA bandh unites BJP, Left & SP
Mulayam courts arrest with Yechury, Karat; Left leaders rub shoulders with Gadkari
KV Prasad/TNS

Closed shops in the Chandni Chowk area in New Delhi
Closed shops in the Chandni Chowk area in New Delhi. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

New Delhi, September 20
Parties opposed to the latest reforms unleashed by the UPA government today observed a nation-wide strike and described it as a success with their top leaders courting arrest demanding rollback of FDI in multi-brand retailing, hike in prices of diesel and cap on supply of cooking gas cylinders.

Reports from across the country stated that the bandh evoked a mixed response. Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, the four Left parties along with the Samajwadi Party, the Telugu Desam Party and the Janata Dal (Secular) staged a sit-in at Jantar Mantar.

Rail and road traffic was disrupted in parts of Andhra Pradesh Bihar, Haryana, Punjab Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi. In the Capital, Delhi Transport Corporation buses and Metro plied normally while markets were closed in most places. In Mumbai, with the Shiv Sena staying away from the protest, on account of the Ganesh festival, the bandh impact was not felt.

However, the political significance of the protest, with SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav courting arrest along with Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury (CPM), AB Bardhan and S Sudhakar Reddy (CPI), HD Deve Gowda (JD-S) and N. Chandrababu Naidu (TDP) was clearly visible, lending fresh impetus to the talk of the much-flogged ‘Third Front’. In fact, CPM leader Prakash Karat made efforts through SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav to convince Mulayam to change his plan to protest in Delhi instead of Lucknow. The subscript was that these parties came together and shared a common anti-Congress plank and preferred to be alongside each other on issues concerning people.

Interestingly, CPI leader Bardhan and CPM MP Sitaram Yechury joined the protest called by All-India Traders Front rubbing shoulders with the BJP president Nitin Gadkari and JD-U Sharad Yadav among others.

Yechury said he was present on the invitation of the traders’ body to express solidarity with the cause of challenging multi-brand retailing.

While the BJP and others parties in the Opposition registered a strong protest, both formations were clearly not willing to commit to precipitate a situation leading to the exit of the Congress-led government.

“It is not just the job of the Opposition to make this government fall. The government may fall because of its own deeds...in natural course,” Gadkari said at a press conference.





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