Mumbaiites will more or less be unaffected by the Bharat bandh on Thursday with public transport, malls, supermarkets and all other services likely to function normally. Only the nearby kirana store owner might take the day off and the wholesale agricultural produce market in Vashi, and retail traders, will be shut.
With the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena staying away from the bandh, it is unlikely that Mumbaiites will be inconvenienced in any way.
The bandh has been called by the BJP-led National Democratic alliance (NDA) to protest the Centre’s decision on allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail leading to the entry of retail giants such as Walmart in India.
The BJP, meanwhile, is relying on the support of the strong trader community to ensure that its call for a shutdown does not go unheeded. The BJP’s call has been backed by various associations of traders and retailers. “All traders and retailers across Mumbai and Thane will down their shutters. We are not supporting any political party but fighting a battle for our own survival,” said Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Associations.
The Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, which met in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday, has also backed the bandh. We have taken a decision to join the Bharat bandh to send a clear message to the government. We have got calls of support from all over the country and we are confident that the bandh will be very successful all over,” said Mohan Gurnani, president of the Association. Gurnani added that there was pressure to call for an indefinite bandh, but they refused because people will be inconvenienced during the festive season.
However, many traders are not keen on shutting down during the festive season. “The decision to enforce a bandh during Ganpati is not a wise move. There is a lot of business generated during the festive season and traders are skeptical of downing their shutters at this time,” said Bhupen Majithia, a trader from Lamington Road. While education officials have said that schools will remain open, most school managements said that they will take a call depending on the situation. The University of Mumbai and all its affiliated colleges in the city will stay open on Thursday.