The BJP-led NDA and Left claimed Monday's nationwide strike called separately by both to be a success, but the ruling Congress termed it a “total flop”.
The Left had first given a call for the strike, the BJP followed with its announcement for one on the same day in a bid to maximise the impact. The Left and NDA control 11 state governments between them and the impact of the strike was visible in these states.
Only two main non-UPA parties — RJD of former railways minister Lalu Prasad and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister's BSP — stayed away.
Though leaders of both NDA and Left courted arrest separately in Delhi, they termed the opposition unity as historic.
“It is for the first time in India’s history that all political parties outside government have come together against the ruling dispensation. The opposition unity is a people’s wish,” said NDA convenor and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav.
BJP president, Nitin Gadkari questioned Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh’s silence on the issue. “I appeal to Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to break their silence...there is a committee (National Advisory Council) under Sonia Gandhi. Why does it not speak on the issue?”
He also took a swipe at Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, asking if he could not “see poverty when he visited the houses of the poor and ate with them”.
“Why does the Rajkumar (Rahul Gandhi) not speak about this?” he asked.
A combative Congress, however, took a dig at the coming together of the NDA and Left. “We congratulate both of them for being strange new partners and bedfellows,” said party spokesman, Abhishek Singhvi.
“The objective of the bandh was mere gimmickry. Except for the state-sponsored initiatives in certain states where they are in power, there has been complete negative reaction against the bandh,” he said.
In a carefully worded statement, the four Left parties termed the strike as an “unprecedented success”
and said they would chalk out their future plans "in consultation with secular opposition parties.”