Amid the state-wide Bandh called by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government on Monday in protest against the Lakhimpur Kheri incident that claimed the lives of eight people including four farmers, the opposition calls it an ‘unconstitutional’ move and terms it a political gimmick.
“When Bandh is supported by state governments, they should tell private and governments offices to keep it close, their unplanned announcements caused inconvenience to the common man. All the street vendors are forced to close the shops, who would be paying for the losses of the common man? ” Asks Mumbaikar.
Viren Shah, chief of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) said, “First we objected to the state government calling a bandh but later on decided to support the bandh. After the request of Shiv Sena and other party leaders, we have decided to keep shops closed till 4 pm in support of the bandh call by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.”
Most of the state traders have suffered huge losses for the past 18 months due to lockdown. Their business somehow managed to get in track but in the middle of the festival season when customers have started coming out to shop, they were not allowed to do their business peacefully.
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government comprising the Shiv Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party or NCP is supporting the bandh. In fact, the state government itself announced the bandh at a joint press conference of the three parties, which is unconstitutional.
Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik told reporters, “I request 12 crore people of Maharashtra to support the farmers. Support means all of you join the bandh and stop your work for a day.” But he did not discuss the compensation for losses.
The state government said everything would be closed except for essential services. The Agricultural Produce Market Committee or sabzi mandi is also shut. Shiv Sena workers were seen patrolling the streets in Thane and stopping the autos amid the shutdown.
When we asked Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut about the motive and purpose of the Bandh and also who would compensate the small-time vendors and employees those who lost their one-day wages, Raut said, “This bandh is not for any political or personal motive. We wanted to give a strong message that our Anna data (farmer) is not alone and we stand by them in their solidarity.”
He further said, “If we fail to take care of the farmers tomorrow nobody would take care of us, they are the backbone of the Indian economy, and they are the hands that are feeding us. So when the intention was to stand in support, little sacrifice is inevitable. The purpose of Bandh was to condemn the attack on farmers, and the brutality caused to them, we want justice to be delivered to those farmers who were killed but the irony is that the central government and their ministers are supporting the accused.”
Three companies of the Central Reserve Police Force, 500 home guards, and 700 from other forces were deployed across Mumbai to maintain law and order.
The traders appear, however, to be stuck in a political crossfire, as the BJP has said it will not allow, “forced closure of shops” to support the bandh.
BJP MLA Ram Kadam said, “This government is confused. They have outraged the constitution of India. Don’t they know that a ruling government cannot call out a state-wide Bandh? This is happening for the first time in the history of independent India. Keeping their own offices open they are shutting other businesses. Who will pay for their loss? Are they suggesting unemployment? Why the Maha Vikas Aghadi is not telling what have they done about the Nirbhaya incidents in Maharashtra? What about the Palghar mob lynching? In Kashmir, 7 Hindus are brutally murdered in 5 days. Is this not the double standard of this government?”
BJP General Secretary MLA Atul Bhatkalkar said, “This is state-sponsored terrorism. It is a political gimmick by ‘Maha Bighadi Sarkar’. They are calling Bandh in Maharashtra for the farmers of UP and what about the suicides of the farmers in Maharashtra? In the Marathwada division, 22-lakh hectare cultivation land has gone in water destroying the crop yield. CM has no time to visit there. In districts like Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, and Konkan farmers are yet to get disaster relief compensation. The ruling aide Raju Shetty has himself said that the relief helps is not reached as yet. This Bandh is nothing but Pawar and Thackeray dramatics. Commons are facing hardships. Best Buses are vandalized badly. Police and Shiv Sena walk hand in hand.”
Chief spokesperson of BJP Madhav Bhandari said, “This is scamming and an act of state-sponsored fanaticism. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide within the state and they are concerned about UP farmers. Not even a courtesy call was done to the deceased farmer’s family members. The flood-hit farmers of Konkan and Western ghat are still without a single penny aid. Destroying public property, threatening businessmen for their lives retelling them of Mansukh Hiren issue and terrorizing traders is pure terrorism.”
Preeti Sharma Menon, spokesperson of Aam Aadmi Party told Afternoon Voice, “The Lakhimpur massacre is nothing short of a terrorist attack and it is still unbelievable that it was perpetrated by those in power. Even the Taliban doesn’t mow down its citizens as the BJP leaders have done. It is essential for all of us to protest and fight for justice, for sanity.”
“However, since MVA chose to protest through a bandh the government should have shut the whole state, so people don’t have to struggle to get to their offices without transport. More importantly, the violence and vandalism of Shiv Sena are condemnable. What purpose is served by destroying public property in your own state?” Menon further stated.
BJP MP Gopal Shetty told Afternoon Voice, “The time from which this Maha Vikas Aghadi government has come into power the Bandh began, so there is no Bandh today. I condemn this fake Bandh and this phoney of the three party’s decision. NCP and Congress killed many farmers in police firings when their coalition government was ruling. Why wasn’t a Bandh called at that time? BJP stands for those who lost their dear ones.”
Dhananjay Shinde of the Aam Aadmi Party said, “Announcement of Bandh by Government is a controversial decision. Most of the time it is just the politics of the ruling parties. Today MVA government has called for Bandh. But even BJP state governments had done the same during the UPA regime. Aam Aadmi Party always supports peaceful Bandh within the constitutional framework. We are always against forceful Bandh. The violence of political parties in power doing Bandh is absolutely cowardly act and not appreciated. Common men always suffer because of Bandh. There is an urgent need to brainstorm and find out the solution on how to compensate the commoner suffering because of Bandh.”
Maharashtra BJP leader Nitesh Rane warned, “If shopkeepers are forced to close shops tomorrow by any of the MVA karyakartas, they will have to face BJP karyakartas. Police should ensure no one is forced or else there will be a law-and-order situation, which is not our responsibility.”
Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra had been named in a police case filed by farmers who said he drove into a gathering of slogan-shouting demonstrators amid a peaceful black-flag protest last Sunday.
Ashish Mishra was produced before a court on Saturday night; days after intense pressure build-up on police inaction even after a murder case was filed. The Supreme Court had also pulled up the UP Police for not doing their job properly.