Hundreds of workers of Left parties and BJP were arrested while staging protests

Barring stray incidents, the nation-wide bandh call given by the Left parties and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) evoked a poor response in Tamil Nadu on Thursday.

Hundreds of workers of the Left parties and BJP were arrested when they staged protests condemning the hike in price of petrol. In Chennai, BJP president Pon Radhakrishnan and senior leader L. Ganesan were among those arrested during a demonstration on Anna Salai.

Though around 40 per cent of the State Transport Corporation workers, mainly affiliated to the Left unions, joined the bandh, bus services in Chennai and elsewhere remained unaffected.

The authorities maintained regular services with the help of those who ignored the call. But, as autorickshaw drivers largely stayed away, not many three-wheelers could be seen on roads.

At Tambaram, BJP workers sat on the track near platform 1, halting the movement of suburban electric trains to Chennai Beach for 15 minutes. Members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) staged a demonstration at Madipakkam and other places in the suburbs of Chennai.

In the southern region of the State, barring incidents of stone-throwing at 11 buses in Kanyakumari district, the situation was peaceful.

The police used mild force to disperse CITU volunteers who refused to move away after blocking the Shencottah-Madurai passenger in Virudhunagar. Inter-State bus services between Kanyakumari district and neighbouring Kerala were operated in convoys with police escort.

The integrated bus stand at Mattuthavani in Madurai wore a deserted look in the morning but became busy as the day progressed. Dindigul MLA, K. Balabharathy, and BJP leader H. Raja were among those held for picketing traffic in Dindigul and Karaikudi.

In the western region, autorickshaws of unions affiliated to parties that took part in the bandh remained off the road.

Bus services were near-normal in Coimbatore, Tirupur and other districts in the region. But, shops and trade establishments remained closed till evening.

At Annur in the district, an attempt to burn Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in effigy was foiled by the police.

In the central region, autos run by drivers affiliated to the Left trade unions did not ply. However, buses and other modes of transport plied as usual. Shops and business establishments remained open. Cadres of the CPI (M), Communist Party of India (CPI) and BJP, including women, were arrested when they attempted to organise road roko and picketing of Central government offices demanding rollback in the price hike.