New Delhi: Even as the Bharat Bandh of September 2nd got a mixed response from the businesses and public, the trade unions are unfazed and have already fixed dates for bandhs till the end of 2017.
The reason for doing this so much in advance, as one of the official organizers of bandh said, “It is to let all people know, so that they can plan things for themselves. We are proactive and pro-people. Hence, this degree of planning.”
A news reporter interviewed a few leaders from the trade unions, on the unprecedented and seemingly illogical move.
Reporter: How can you decide bandhs in advance? You don’t even have reasons yet.
Union Leader: That is a very wrong and short-sighted view of things. You need to have a long term approach. Ours is a vast country. We are a nation with large number of issues. There will always be some issue and we can link some of them to a bandh at any time. Do you think we had a reason for this bandh in advance? No way. We decided to call for a bandh and found an appropriate reason for it and declared our demands. We have perpetual demands that can never be met and hence any or all of them can be picked up.
Reporter: What are such perpetual reasons or demands? Can you name a few?
Union Leader: You are being naïve. Take for example, prices of petrol and diesel.
Reporter: What about them? They are going down for months. Inflation is low.
Union Leader: Simple. Then we will protest against falling prices of petrol and diesel. With the kind of governments we get, there will be no dearth of problems and issues. In any case, mind you. These are only the planned bandhs. In addition, there can and will always be the short notice bandhs, to respond to new issues that crop up suddenly.
Reorter: Then what is the point in the so called long term planning?
Union Leader: As I said, bandhs are inevitable and we are only streamlining it. Look, if you keep challenging us, we will take our protest to your doors too, for lack of media support.
However, the above move by the unions drew appreciation from unexpected quarters, the IT workers. One of them articulated their view very well.
He said, “This is a truly welcome move. All these days, whenever bandh was declared, we IT people were not able to make use of the holiday well, due to short notice. We don’t get reservation in hotels and resorts immediately. This step will help solve the problem. We can plan well. As we can see, with the bandhs planned for next two years, five out of six will result in long weekends for us. This is an ideal situation for us to go out and relax.”
When asked if their travel won’t get affected due to non-availability of transport on the days of bandh, he explained, “Are you kidding? Do you think we use public transport for our outings? We have our SUVs and jeeps. If possible, they should declare dates for the next 5 years; it will help us plan international trips too.”
Theatre owners too have started negotiating with the trade union leaders to exempt them from closing business on the days of bandh. One theater owner said, “Those are the days when people really flock to the theatres and we can make good money.”
Students had mixed feelings. “It is always nice to have an extra holiday. We can play cricket on the street. But then schools conduct extra classes or declare Sunday a working day,” said a student.