When it comes to bandhs, hartals, rasta rokos etc, it is all about scoring political points in trying to put the Government on the mat. There is hardly any genuine concern for the common man which all these parties pretend to project. All parties have been ruling some State or the other and are equally responsible for the price rise and hike in petroleum prices The only thing that they have ensured is tremendous loss to the nation by way of production, profits, Government revenue , wages, damage to trains, buses, vehicles etc. Make the parties concerned pay for the losses. A national signature campaign could have been much more effective but no free publicity for politicians on every channel. There was no dispute with the cause - only with the means.
There have been screams of 'total success', Government's highhandedness, stifling the voice of the people [ actually opposition ], uncalled for lathi charge, arrests of hundreds of party workers and more particularly of top leaders - a national shame. How you define 'success' depends on how you perceive it. Those who declared the bandh will view the empty roads, buses, trains etc as a sign of total public support. The public transport remains available but it is forced to go off through rail rook, rasta roko, stone pelting. The taxi union in Mumbai said they want to ply but cannot risk the damage to vehicles But that was not out of national duty but because they blackmailed the Government to compensate them for rise in CNG prices by increasing taxi / auto tariffs.
It was a little odd to see the BJP leading the agitation in Bihar with senior leaders in tow. Actually, they should have led the agitators. On the contrary, they were hiding behind 8 - 10 rows of party workers who took the brunt of the brutal lathi charge [ whether justified or otherwise]. The leaders should have faced those lathis and shown that they are made of sterner stuff - just like those brave freedom fighters of the pre-independence struggle. They were not shielded. Ironically, when it came to the 'arrest', the two BJP leaders became very prominent with dozens of cameras focusing on these great leaders. To ensure that they were seen prominently, they chose window seats in police vans [as against hiding behind party works when it came to facing lathis] and once again to be focused upon.
It would be nice if these very organizers decide to have another Bharat bandh with a joint statement declaring that it should be reflective of public participation and that no member of any political party will stop, threaten or intimidate or coerce anyone who wishes to ignore the bandh. The politicians will be amazed to see how much support these worthies actually garner for such unproductive exercises.
There is a saying in Gujarati language which when translated goes as follows. A dog that walks under a bullock cart enjoying its shade gratis, actually thinks that the cart is moving because of his efforts [ and not because of the oxen]. Our political leaders think likewise when they give a call for bandhs and pat themselves on their backs for the unprecedented, spontaneous, and voluntary public 'support'. Don't mistake fright for support - they are two different things. Real support is gauged by the votes you can get at the electoral battle !
-by Marshall Sequeira