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Metros bandh-struck

Five states governed by the Congress singly or in alliance were among at least 19 which were most affected by the Bharat Bandh called separately by the NDA and the Left parties on Monday, a random survey by HT showed.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Mumbai/bangalore/kolkata/chennai
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2010 12:19 AM IST

Five states governed by the Congress singly or in alliance were among at least 19 which were most affected by the Bharat Bandh called separately by the NDA and the Left parties on Monday, a random survey by HT showed.

The shutdowns were called to protest the fuel price hikes, which the non-UPA parties said would affect the precarious condition of ordinary people.

The states governed by constituents of the UPA where the impact of the bandh was big included Maharashtra, Delhi and three northeastern states — Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

Among the country’s six metros, the effect of the shutdown was strong in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata whereas Chennai and Hyderabad barely responded to the bandh.

Expectedly, the response to the call was the strongest in states governed by constituents of the NDA and Left parties.

In Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra, the shutdown was total. Mumbaiites stayed indoors even though mass transportation such as suburban trains and state-run BEST buses were running.

BJP and Shiv Sena activists enforcing the bandh damaged 175 state-run buses by pelting stones at them, officials said.

“In cases where political members are identifiable, the damages will be taken from them individually, otherwise political parties will have to pay up,’’ said the state’s Home Minister R.R. Patil.

In suburban Borivli, political workers enforcing the bandh slapped and threatened commuters trying to reach their workplaces in the morning.

The BJP, Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena blocked rail tracks and roads at several places.

In Bangalore, life was paralysed with even IT firms deciding to remain closed as a precaution. Work at IT companies, which need to keep their services running round the clock, was disrupted for the first time, said a corporate analyst.

Most IT firms, including Infosys, Wipro and HP, asked their employees to compensate for the loss of work on Saturday.

An Infosys spokesperson said special arrangements for overnight stay and pick-up and drop facilities were made for personnel working on important projects and BPO services in Bangalore.

Several IT professionals have extended their weekends and most hotels around the city were overbooked. “Had we known about the holiday, we might have gone out of station for three days,” said Jignesh Prasad, a software engineer.

In Kolkata, West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was among the 20 people who went to work at the state secretariat, Writers’ Buildings, where 5,200 are supposed to work.

(With HT state bureaus)

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