With support dwindling, bandh call loses steam

Auto, taxi driver associations have also withdrawn their support, but Vatal Nagaraj sticks to his guns

As more organisations that had earlier supported the Karnataka bandh call on December 31 reversing their decision on Wednesday, the strike is unlikely to affect daily life.

This comes amidst an appeal by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to call off the bandh plan. “We have already taken action against the vandals and are examining legal options to ban the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES),” he said in Hubballi.

However, Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj, who has given the bandh call, is firm on going ahead with it. Praveen Shetty, leader of one of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike factions, who had earlier supported the bandh call, wrote an open letter on Wednesday arguing for postponing the strike, as businesses battered by the pandemic hoped to make some recovery on New Year’s Eve. “We will try to convince Vatal Nagaraj to restrategise,” he told presspersons.

Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, led by T. A. Narayana Gowda who has not supported the bandh call, has announced a protest rally to Raj Bhavan on Thursday “to build pressure on the Union Government to ban MES”. With both factions of KRV not supporting the call, it would have no workers on the ground to mobilise support and enforce the bandh, police said.

Multiple transport associations, including those connected to cabs and autorickshaws, have also withdrawn their support. “We supported the bandh call to support the Kannada cause, but since there is no unity among Kannada organisations themselves, we have withdrawn our support. Individuals can take a call on their participation,” said Tanveer Pasha, president, Ola Uber Drivers and Owners’ Association.

M. Manjunath, president, Adarsha Auto and Taxi Drivers’ Association, said they had also left it to individual drivers to take a call as the association had withdrawn support. “We had also not factored in the night curfew. We thought we could do business after 6 p.m., but now even that is hit,” he said.

The Kannada film industry, hospitality industry, and several trade bodies have announced though they would “morally support” the cause. They were already reeling under heavy losses and would not shut down businesses.

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