The state of Maharashtra observed an extremely bizarre day on 11th October 2021. In a reversal of the role played by the opposition and government, the Maharashtra government decided to disrupt the lives of the same people who entrusted them to improve it.
Uddhav Thackeray government shuts its own state down
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Maharashtra, comprising of the coalition of Shiv Sena, NCP, and the Congress decided to observe a day-long bandh in the state. According to the government, the bandh was observed because the MVA coalition wanted to protest against the alleged killings of four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh.
Bus and auto services affected
The bandh started at midnight on Monday and it mainly affected the main cities of Mumbai, Pune, and Thane. According to a report by IndiaToday, 9 buses were damaged by the bandh supporting stone-pelters in Mumbai. The damage of the buses led to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) stopping the bus service for the day. Meanwhile, officials said that the intra-state bus services were operational. Bus services in Pune were operational till 12 PM, while in Thane, officials decided to keep the buses off-road for the day.
The bandh also led to disruption in auto and cab services as most of the cabs and autos remained off-roads in the state. However, most of the private cab services were active in main economic centres.
Railways remained unaffected
Amidst cabs, auto, and bus services getting affected, the local train and metro services of the state emerged as a shining light as they were operational for the whole day. However, passengers gathered in huge numbers at the platforms due to irregular disruption in other modes of transport.
Late in the day, the Uddhav Thackeray’s government decided to enforce the bandh through violence and threatening to those not complying. Various reports of threatening shopkeepers, puncturing tires of the citizens’ vehicles, and vandalization of small businesses was reported from the state. Times of India reported how Shiv Sena workers were beating Auto rickshaws to force them off the road in turn depriving them of their livelihood.
#MaharashtraBandh: Auto drivers beaten in Thane
Watch: Shiv Sena workers beat autorickshaw drivers with sticks and force them to go off road in front of Anand Ashram at Tembhi Naka in Thane.
— TOI Mumbai (@TOIMumbai) October 11, 2021
Extraordinary politics: burning a State down to protest an incident in another distant State. Unprecedented.
— Kanchan Gupta 🇮🇳 (@KanchanGupta) October 11, 2021
This lady is a doctor on her way home after a long night duty at a hospital in Mumbai. She is now stranded because Maharashtra govt decided to forcefully bring our state to a stand-still and misuse their power. Never forget, Mumbai! pic.twitter.com/l2Ofy31Ia6
— Priti Gandhi – प्रीति गांधी (@MrsGandhi) October 11, 2021
Devendra Fadnavis calls bandh an act of State-sponsored terrorism
Meanwhile, the opposition called the bandh an act of state-sponsored terrorism. Devendra Fadnavis, the former chief minister of the state said- “People are being forced to observe the bandh using police and administration. This is a form of state-sponsored terrorism,”. He also advised the government to focus on the farmers’ issue in its own state. Raising the issue of problems faced by farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha. Fadnavis said, “the bandh called by the Maha Vikas Aghadi is pure hypocrisy. If the government is really concerned about farmers, then it should declare immediate relief for farmers of Marathwada and Vidarbha.”
Lakhimpur Kheri violence and politics around it
On the 3rd of October 2021, a total of 8 people were reported to be killed in a clash between alleged farmers and people of BJP leader Ajay Mishra Teni’s convoy. Firstly, people belonging to the so-called farmers’ protest claimed that Ajay Teni’s convoy had killed 4 protesters when a vehicle skidded off the road. But subsequent reports and videos emerging from the spot showed various protesters lynching the people of BJP leader’s convoy to death. In one video, the fake-farmers were threatening a driver of the convoy to accept that he was sent to run his vehicle on protestors. The matter is under investigation by a special investigation team.
— Sunil Yadav (@SunilYadavBJP) October 3, 2021
Meanwhile, whilst the matter is still under investigation, the opposition decided to bake their political bread on the bodies of those killed. On the day of the violence, Priyanka Gandhi decided to run to Lakhimpur Kheri by the evening. She misbehaved with law enforcement agencies and threatened them with false molestation charges.
People in Maharashtra fed-up with political disturbance
With 5-months left for Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly elections, 2022, the Maharashtra government decided to observe the bandh to support their allies in UP. At a time, when owing to huge vaccination campaigns, the national economy is recovering from covid-enforced lockdowns; the MVA government forced their own people into another economic mess.
The utter disregard for the people being ruled by them is a clear indication of the utilisation of the state’s law-and-order machinery by the destructive forces inside the Maharashtra assembly.
The bandh by the state government did decelerate the economic recovery of the state, but the never-say-die spirit of Maharashtrians did not allow it to be a fully successful bandh. The people of Maharashtra do not care about what happened in Lakhimpur Kheri. The people of Maharashtra want their own state government to take care of their needs. In these circumstances, bandhs are a sure-shot way of depriving people, rather than fulfilling their needs. It is going to backfire for the parties involved.