The all-India bandh against allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail sector evoked a lukewarm response in Punjab and Haryana on Thursday.
The neighbourhood stores, malls and markets remained by and large open in most towns of the two northern states. Shopkeepers held protest rallies and burnt effigies of the UPA government at some places though. The bandh call failed to generate much response in Chandigarh as well.
While the BJP has backed the anti-FDI bandh demanding a rollback on the FDI decision, its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), is supporting the United Progressive Alliance government’s decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail.
In Jalandhar, the markets responded to it with partial shutdown. Barring wholesale markets, it was business as usual in most other markets and financial institutions in the city. The neighbourhood shops and stores also remained open in most areas.
Small and medium traders downed their shutters in some parts of Patiala though.
Shops and departmental stores remained closed for four hours in the morning at Nabha, Samana, Patran and Bhadson while shopping malls and major markets remained open in Patiala city. Shopkeepers burnt the effigy of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and raised slogans against the UPA government to register their protest.
In Bathinda, the bandh call failed to elicit any response from the trading community, which seemed unaware about the brouhaha over allowing FDI in retail. The kirana shops and markets remained unaffected. In Haryana also, shopkeepers largely stayed away from the bandh call and opened their shops as usual in Kurukshetra, Sirsa and several other towns.
In Ambala city, a small group of BJP workers carrying empty bowls and banners marched through the main bazaar, raising slogans against the UPA government for its anti-trader move. Similarly, the trading community remained indifferent to the bandh call in Sirsa. Though the opposition INLD opposing the Centre’s FDI move, none of its leaders made any effort to make the bandh successful.