Today’s call for a nationwide strike (Bharat Bandh) by trade unions of street vendors, small traders, and most of the political parties from left to right and including of parties within the Govt. and parties supporting the Govt. was historical. Millions of retailers and thousands of trade associations observed the bandh demanding rollback of FDI in multi-brand retail. All major markets were closed through out India. Public transport was off the roads and colleges, schools, offices and transport services remain shut in most part of India. Trains were blocked by political activists of BJP, SP and CPI (ML) in many places including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand. The station Master of Patna Railway Station was locked. The impact of the strike was also seen in states of the North East. The bandh was total in Manipur. Banks, markets, shops and educational institutions were closed, with government offices recording low attendance in Meghalaya. Railway, road and others services were heavily impacted in Jharkhand. Most colleges reported only 20-50% attendance in Mumbai.
In a sit-in protest organised jointly by our campaign allies prominent national leaders from left to right shared the dais. NDA Convenor and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav asked the Congress to remove Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for this “attack on the bread of butter of 25 crore people”, while addressing the protest at Jantar Mantar. Eight parties including left parties and SP took out protest march towards Parliament and Mulayam Singh Yadav, Prakash Karat, AB Bardhan, Sitaram Yechury and Chandrababu Naidu courted arrest in parliament police station. BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu was detained in Hyderabad whereas Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar got arrested in Bangalore.
On the other hand, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said to media that the nation-wide strike has caused a huge damage to the Indian economy and the common people. Big Business lobby group, CII reported to media that the nation-wide strike against the government decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail have caused losses to the tune of Rs12,500 crore ($2.25 billion) to the Indian economy.
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