It was a first for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): its bandh brought the city to a standstill on Monday.
For a change, its aggressive alliance partner, the Shiv Sena, lacked it usual vigour. As roads and rail tracks were blocked and agitations staged, the BJP colours stood out and it succeeded in portraying itself as the state’s main opposition party.
“Our prominent leaders were given responsibility of a major city and agitations started at the same time across the state,” said a party functionary.
State president Sudhir Munguntiwar and senior leader Gopinath Munde led the stir in Mumbai. Opposition leader Eknath Khadse was held in Pune and general secretary Vinod Tawde led protests in Nashik.
The party selected suburbs for a show of strength, with Munde going to Andheri.
The Sena made no impact in the suburbs. Whether it stayed away due to a lack of initiative or fear of legal action is unclear. The party, however, flexed its muscles in its stronghold of central Mumbai, with Manohar Joshi leading protests in Dadar.
The Sena’s clone, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, chose to participate nominally.
The BJP’s luck changed with last year’s polls when it won more seats than the Sena in the state. All this can give it an upper hand when it sits for talks with the Sena for the 2012 civic polls in Mumbai and other cities.