And so the State of Tamil Nadu had a bandh. The Man from Madras Musings could only smile at the feeble manner in which it was observed. That the party, which called for it, claimed it was a complete success is only to be expected. And perhaps as per its standards it was. But to MMM, coming as he does from Calcutta, there are certain high standards to a Bandh that have been set in that city to which Chennai can only aspire in vain.
Firstly, where was the complete stoppage of all public transport? Till the last minute newspapers and electronic media claimed that bus and train services would be affected. But given the number of people who went to office that day, much to MMM’s complete disgust, it was clear that the transport unions had lamentably decided to answer the call of duty. True, the opposition party that was pro-bandh and its eternally-wanting-to-be-young leader did make a half-hearted attempt at stopping traffic on arterial roads but the police, which showed a sad lack of respect for bandh rules, immediately arrested all protestors and took them off to a marriage hall, where eternally-wanting-to-be-young leader conducted the marriage of two protestors. Is a wedding conducted during bandh hours really legal? And what business had eternally youthful to officiate at such an event when he was technically on strike? If the leader himself does not observe the rules of a bandh, who else will? And then, the party had a ‘working committee’ meeting to decide on future course of action. How can a working committee work during bandh hours? And as for the police, the less said the better. Any force with a healthy respect for bandhs would not have stepped in earlier than 5 pm to arrest the leader who was blocking traffic. That way, there would have been chaos on the roads for sufficiently long enough to paralyse the city, the electronic and social media would have covered the stoppage extensively, leader would have got his optics and the police, at 5 pm, would have had the satisfaction of having done its duty.
MMM would like to blame schools also for their casual attitude to a bandh call. Not one of them closed. Children went to study happily on a day when they ought to have been at home playing games on their cell phones. Not one of them protested at this snatching away of a fundamental right. Parents too were quite content sending off their wards to school before they set off to work. It all shows a sad lack of respect for The Bandh Book of Rules, (first printed in Calcutta). Given all these comings and goings, the roads were full of traffic and newspapers were not given an opportunity to show a bunch of youngsters playing cricket on a principal thoroughfare.
Last but not least, can any self-respecting party call for a bandh on a Thursday? That is a day that is neither here nor there. In sunny Bengal, no party worth its salt would declare bandhs on any day other than a Friday or a Monday. That way everyone got an extended weekend and therefore cooperated wholeheartedly in making every bandh a success. There were some weeks when the ruling party would call for a bandh on a Monday and the opposition would call one on the following Friday. The ensuing three-day weeks were a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Chennai-ites have no feel for a bandh and do not know how to enjoy it. It is time our leaders are sent northeast for a quick course on how to organise bandhs and make them effective.
Wonderful piece of writing. You are absolutely right! My sister living in Chennai was totally ignorant of an All India Bandh last year. I was outraged. Don’t send your leaders to far away North East. They just have to cross the border and come to Kerala. We will teach them how to burn buses, make people get stranded at international airport, as well as boost the local economy by buying loads of liquor and chicken the day before hartal. Please do not expect to learn stoppage of necessary items like milk and newspaper. Citizens need to be educated not to fall sick or have heart attacks on the Bandh day because vehicles to hospital will not be spared either.
Red commies may almost have left Bengal to Trinamul which is sometimes more Left than the Left – in vociferous protests by cadres for example. What is left for the Left is Kerala then, when the Red Bastion of Tripura fell to new saffron ways and shall we say, Tripura became right ?
However, the culture of Bandhs at the drop of a hat seems to have caught on, without any patent claims of the Left and even when the Courts may have come down heavily on such a practice, there is really none to beat the Hartal (name used widely in the state) in God’s Own Country, where not just political parties but any organization or fringe element thinks it is not just divinely ordained for them to call one, but also a right even when it is the Left which organizes one.
Meantime, protests in Tamilnadu are getting more black if not colourful, with balloons of that hue being sent to targets who try to fly away in airplanes. For variety, easy targets such as cricket matches and IPL are shut down, for how can they entertain when farmers are denied water. However, people can be entertained by watching movies in theatres of the same state even when no water flows for the farmers or their crops.
Bandh and Logic – What relation ? Country divided by religion, caste, language, water etc is strangely united by Bandhs and Hartals, which every party wants and citizens quietly enjoy, when there is not much to do but to acknowledge and talk friendly to your own family or neighbour.
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