Lashing out against the demonetisation move by the Narendra Modi government, the opposition parties led by the Congress on Monday held protests. However, only the Left Front, which has a presence in Kerala, Bengal and Tripura, has called for a strike or ‘Bharat Bandh’ in the three states. The Congress and Left, which is observing Aakrosh Divas (Day of Angst), said that it will highlight the nation’s anger due to the government’s demonetisation drive.
The protests were first called by Congress party and other parties joined the call. However, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee announced that her party will not join the protests. She said that it will add to the inconvenience of people who are already suffering because of demonetisation.
The protests began from the early hours of Monday. Several states have been affected but those which have been most affected are Kerala, Tripura, Bihar and Odisha.
Kerala: Life has come to a standstill in Kerala with the ruling LDF backing the protests. Keeping in mind the peak tourist season, the government had decided to exempt tourists from the strike. It had issued instructions to all departments concerned, including police to take all possible steps to ensure that the tourism sector was not hit by the strike. However, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and private buses are keeping off roads in most places. Autorickshaws were seen plying in some places, providing some relief to people. Police vehicles were used to transport railway passengers and patients coming from far off places to the Regional Cancer Centre. Marriage parties and Sabarimala devotees have also been exempted. Earlier there were reports that some universities in Kerala had postponed its exams because of the protest.
West Bengal: Normal life remained visibly unaffected in the first few hours. Government buses and other private vehicles were seen plying on the road. Left parties, including CPM and CPI, staged a protest. Left Front chairman Biman Bose said they are not demanding to “keep the black money like TMC”.
The strike call by the Left Front has been opposed by the ruling TMC in West Bengal. “We oppose bandhs. We will take out a protest march (against demonetisation) on Monday,” state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said. The state government has ordered all its employees to attend offices on Monday and Tuesday. Exceptions would be made only in case of bereavement, maternity leave, hospitalisation and other ‘genuine reasons’, a circular issued by the state finance department said.
Government and private buses, trams and other private vehicles were seen plying on the road while most of the shops and markets were open. Train services of Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services were also normal, Railway sources said.
Odisha: The Odisha government ordered shutdown of all educational institutes, including government run schools and colleges, according to reports. Maoists extend their support to the bandh in Odisha against demonetisation. The Utkal University at Bhubaneswar temporarily postponed all examinations which were scheduled to be held on Monday. On Sunday, the state home department directed all district collectors to take precautionary measures to ensure peace during the opposition protest.
Tripura: Life in Tripura has been affected by 12-hour shutdown called by left parties. As per reports, offices, businesses, educational institution and banks remained closed today morning. Government and semi-government, private offices, banks, educational institutions, shops and business establishments were remained closed due to the strike. All types of vehicles, except security forces, remained off the roads. Aircrafts in-between Agartala, Guwahati, Kolkata and New Delhi have been plied as usual. Train services between Tripura and rest of the country were affected as the Left party workers blocked several trains in different locations in the state. “There is no untoward incident reported from anywhere in the state. The shut down remained peaceful across the state,” police spokesman Uttam Kumar Bhowmik said.
Bihar: JD-U didn’t support the protests. Bihar Chief Minister and party president Nitish Kumar said that he supported the demonetisation drive and only wanted the government to put an end to the inconvenience caused to people. However, CPI(ML) workers in Darbhanga stop train early morning protesting against the demonetisation drive.
New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi protested in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Parliament complex. AIR news reported that Congress-led Himachal Pradesh government had decided to refrain from the Bharat bandh. In Jammu, Congress workers held a Jan Akrosh rally. Several of them were detained by the police.
Tamil Nadu: DMK leader MK Stalin and party workers were taken into custody by police in Chennai after their protests.