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.