Opposition parties have called for a nationwide bandh today to protest against the government's reform measures announced last week. The government, taking some politically tough decisions had hiked the price of diesel by Rs. 5 per litre, capped the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to six per household and cleared 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment or FDI in multi-brand retail - reforms, which saw its biggest ally, Mamata Banerjee, pull out of the UPA.
Here are the 10 latest developments in the story:
- Workers from the BJP Yuva Morcha blocked three trains at the Patna railway station while protestors belonging to the Samajwadi Party stopped a train in Allahabad today. Reports say a train was also stopped in Bhubaneswar. The Samajwadi Party is supporting today's bandh. Uttar Pradesh's main opposition party, Mayawati's BSP isn't.
- Nearly 5 crore traders and 25 thousand trade associations are observing a bandh demanding rollback of FDI in multi-brand retail.
- In Delhi, public transport including the metro functioned smoothly in the morning. Most schools and major markets, however, are shut. Opposition leaders like Sharad Yadav, Murli Manohar Joshi, Prakash Karat and AB Bardhan are expected to join a dharna at Jantar Mantar later in the day.
- In Kolkata, train services were disrupted for a brief period in the morning but are running smoothly now. Shops, school and colleges are closed, and only a few buses are plying in the city. Workers belonging to the Trinamool Congress and the BJP reportedly clashed in the morning at Howrah. While the Left Front has declared a 12-hour bandh in the state, Mamata Banerjee's government has opposed it and urged people to go to work.
- In Karnataka, the bandh had a partial effect. Though no official announcement was made by the BJP-run state government, many schools and colleges were shut. While most state-run buses stayed off the road in the morning, auto rickshaws and trains continued to operate normally.
- In Tamil Nadu, public transport remained near normal; most schools and colleges also stayed open. While the opposition DMK, which is an ally of the UPA at the Centre, is supporting the bandh, the AIADMK government will not take part in it, though Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has demanded a roll back in the hike in the fuel prices and FDI in multi-brand retail.
- Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra are remained unaffected by the bandh due to Ganesh Chaturthi festivities. The Maharashtra Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the Shiv Sena and the BJP have said that they will not enforce the nationwide strike in the state because of the ongoing festival. Public transport, malls, supermarkets and all other services functioned normally. Schools and colleges also stayed open.
- While MNS supports FDI in retail, BJP and Shiv sena are opposed to it. "I will write to FDI retailers asking them to employ Marathi youth. People from outside shouldn't be employed there," MNS chief Raj Thackeray said on Tuesday, asserting "Maharashtra will not tolerate migrants getting jobs in retail shops."
- In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party, whose support is crucial to the UPA government, is supporting the bandh while Mayawati's BSP isn't. In West Bengal the bandh has been sponsored by the opposition Left Front. So while Mamata Banerjee may have walked out of the UPA over the hike in diesel prices and FDI in multi-brand retail, she is not supporting the bandh. In Tamil Nadu, UPA ally DMK is supporting the bandh but the ruling AIADMK is not.
- The new reforms, designed to revive a sluggish economy, means global firms such as Wal-Mart can set up shop with a local partner and sell directly to consumers for the first time. Like the Left and the BJP, Mamata Banerjee had argued that the entry of international super-markets will put thousands of corner shops and farmers out of business.