The Bharat Bandh called against the hike in petrol prices was observed successfully and peacefully across Madhya Pradesh.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the left parties (CPI and CPI-M) were instrumental in organising rallies in the support of the Bandh, while the Samajwadi Party also participated to a limited extent.
The Congress stayed away from the Bandh, maintaining that the state government could insulate the common man from the fuel-price hike if it wanted by lowering the 29% Value Added Tax and state entry tax on Petrol.
In Bhopal, the impact of the Bandh was all pervasive as almost all busniess establishments remained shut and roads remained deserted for the better part of the day. Towards evening, shops started opening up and road traffic picked up gradually.
Wheat procurement centres (Mandis) were exempted from the Bandh as Thursday was the last day for procurement. Also exempted were educational institutions holding examinations, government offices and banks.
Barring stray incidents in Jabalpur, Bhopal and Indore, the Bandh remained peaceful.
However, on the eve of the Bandh (Wednesday), the BJP had already made space to explain the violence even if it did occur. It “pre-blamed” it on the opposition Congress.
State BJP president Prabhat Jha claimed he had received “intelligence” reports regarding Congress cadres planning to cause trouble during the Bandh. He claimed the Congress activists would be wearing saffron clothes and sporting Jai Shri Ram scarves in order to blame the ruling party for the violence and vandalism that they caused.
Mr. Jha's comment has not been received well by the opposition, which has dared Mr. Jha to reveal his sources.
“Mr. Jha's comments are highly irresponsible and could have jeopardized the security of people across the state,” state Congress spokesperson Manak Agrawal told journalists here.
“We challenge him to reveal his sources within three days or else his comments should be deemed to have been made with an intention to disturb internal security,” said Mr. Agrawal.
The Congress alleged that since the administration and police were asked to ensure a successful bandh, BJP workers indulged in violence, beating up even small traders and roadside food stall owners, especially in Bhopal's commercial M.P.Nagar area.