Back in Time is ED’s newspaper-like column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
20th September 2012: NDA, today, carried out a bandh to protest against UPA government’s decision to hike the fuel price by Rs. 5, to give clearance to 51% FDI in multi-brand retail, and limiting subsidized LPG cylinders to six per household.
On 15th September 2012, the NDA chief Lal Krishna Advani announced that NDA will carry out a Bharat Bandh on 20th September to oppose government’s decision of allowing FDI and fuel hike. Political parties who have joined the Bandh called out by NDA are Samajwadi Party, TDP, BJD, CPIM, RSP, SAD, DMK and other parties.
“Let us all unite to stop these measures which will further burden the people and ruin their livelihood. Let there be a powerful protest on September 20 through hartals, picketing, demonstrations and court arrest programs” the joint statement said, as reported by India Today.
As the bandh proceeded, normal life was disrupted in many cities such as Chandigarh, Patna, Delhi, Kolkata, Allahabad, and Bhuwaneshwar.
As per the news reports, BJP Yuva Morcha stopped three trains at Patna railway station by blocking them. Samajwadi party too participated by blocking trains at Allahabad.
Most of the schools remain closed due to Bharat Bandh. The school administrations wanted to avoid any hassle. Many schools have declared holidays for primary school students but high school and secondary school classes remain open for students to give examinations.
The Chandigarh Transport department has suspended inter-state bus transportation to avoid any damage due to the bandh. However, city bus services remain open.
In New Delhi, most of the private schools remained closed. As reported by The Hindu, BJP protested at around 100 locations in the capital city. Major marketplaces like Khan Market, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk and Kashmere Gate were shut. At the New Delhi railway station, auto drivers refused to carry passengers and protested against the UPA government.
The main contention of Opposition, especially BJP, against the clearance of 51% FDI in retail was that now foreign companies such as Walmart would enter Indian markets and create a monopoly over retail shops rendering the Indian shopkeepers poor. The MNS chief Raj Thakrey said “I will write to FDI retailers asking them to employ Marathi youth. People from outside shouldn’t be employed there. Maharashtra will not tolerate migrants getting jobs in retail shops.”
Navjot Singh Siddhu, as a part of protests, carried out last rites of an LPG cylinder symbolizing the death of cooking gas. Mulayam Singh Yadav along with other political leaders courted arrest at the Parliament Street in Delhi. They were later released.
There were several incidents of burning of effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Social media too did not spare the UPA government and the Congress party.
The leaders later collected at Jantar Mantar and requested all patriotic-minded people to join the protests. Across the country, normal life was disrupted on 20th September due to the Bandh.
Earlier this year on 31st May, a similar bandh was called out by the Opposition against petrol price hike.
Post Scriptum: Five years hence, Modi government has allowed 100% FDI in multi-brand retail, and fuel prices are at an all-time high even after falling in the price of fuel internationally. Nobody is a hypocrite. It’s called politics.
(Images are from here. Actual dates may vary. It is only for representational purposes only.)
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