Demonetisation: The Bandh that wasn’t; some protests but little impact

The 12-hour bandh called by six Left parties, including the CPI and the CPM, was aimed at staging demonstrations outside the RBI buildings and SBI branches.

Written by Sarah Hafeez | New Delhi | Published:November 29, 2016 2:24 am
bharat bandh, bharat bandh mondy, bharat bandh news, congress, tmc, mamata banerjee, left demonetisation, modi, narendra modi, black money, corruption Left parties at a protest rally in Delhi, Monday. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

The nationwide bandh called by Left parties to protest against demonetisation saw a lukewarm response in the capital, with major political parties such as the Congress and the AAP holding separate protest rallies and marches.

The 12-hour bandh called by six Left parties, including the CPI and the CPM, was aimed at staging demonstrations outside the RBI buildings and SBI branches. But it ended in a march from Mandi House to Parliament Street police station. Trade unions, too, held rallies, but most markets remained open.

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At nerve centres such as Connaught Place, Bhogal and South Extension, it was business as usual. Transport was not hit either. Even on social media, several Delhi residents appeared to be wondering if even a single market was shut.

Even the Congress-affiliated All Delhi Auto-Taxi Transport Congress Union did not ask autos to stay off roads. “We are against implementation of the policy but not the policy itself. It has brought down prices of vegetables and essentials,” Kishan Verma, the union’s president, who participated in the Congress’ Jan Aakrosh rally, said.

Trade unions, like the CPI(ML)-affiliated IFTU, held meetings in industrial pockets. Rajesh Kumar, IFTU’s Delhi general secretary, said, “We held meetings with around 300 workers each in Okhla Phase II, Mayapuri and Sarita Vihar’s Labour Chowk. We discussed how demonetisation was the government’s way of helping the rich stash their money while the poor lose theirs.”

IFTU said it had not received directions for a bandh and held meetings on its own accord. CPM’s trade union wing, CITU, said it had asked workers and members to campaign against demonetisation from November 24 to November 28, with a march on the last day from Mandi House to Parliament Street.

“We gave no specific instructions to local member bodies and trade unions. They have freedom to decide what kind of protest campaigns they wanted to organise at the local level. On Monday, around 1,000 people of six Left parties gathered and marched to Parliament Street police station, where Sitaram Yechury and others addressed the crowd. We would not have got permission to protest outside the RBI,” Subir Banerjee, a district secretary of the CPM, said.

Traffic police said about 500 people were involved in the march. Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Garima Bhatnagar said, “There was little slowing of traffic when the Left parties marched, but there was a jam on Barakhamba Road when the Congress marched from Mandi House in the evening.”

Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said, “Delhi has 100 per cent rejected the bandh call and politics of Arvind Kejriwal over demonetisation… Milkmen, vegetable vendors, domestic helps, e-rickshaw operators, merchants and government servants were busy with their normal work.”