The city had the ongoing festivities to thank for being spared the lockdown caused elsewhere due to the nationwide strike called on Thursday by the National Democratic Alliance and road transporters to protest against the recent diesel price hike, cap on cooking gas and foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.
The Ganesh festival ensured that the parties with most street muscle — Shiv Sena and Maharshtra Navnirman Sena — did not participate in the protest.
Even the cadre of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other political outfits did not force public transport services — civic buses, autorickshaws, trains and taxis — to shut down on account of it being an immersion day. No violence or damage to public or private property was reported.
Earlier in the day, senior BJP leaders Gopinath Munde and Vinod Tawde led a morcha to Mantralaya and tried to ‘lock it’ in a symbolic protest. They also courted arrest.
Essential commodities were available, though all the five Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) centres that supply grains, vegetables and fruits to the city, remained closed to protest against the retail FDI. “Retailers and wholesale traders will suffer due to FDI in retail industry. Normally, we work even during political protests, but today [Thursday] we chose to shut shops,” said Shankar Pingle, director of APMC (vegetables).
Retail vendors did make a killing on selling perishable vegetables, but the hike escaped the ire of consumers, as it was masked by the usual price hike during the festive season. “Some vegetables were not available, but then we had other options,” said Pravati Tamane, 66, a housewife from Parel.
Bal Malkit Singh, president, All India Motor Transport Congress claimed over 5,000 trucks remained off the roads.
Bus services, and suburban trains were on schedule, and did not witness any stone-pelting incidents, officials said.