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Bandh near total in several states

New Delhi(IANS): Normal life was affected in many parts of the country by the nationwide bandh on Thursday called by various Opposition parties and backed by some allies of the ruling UPA coalition government at the Centre to protest the steep hike in petrol price.

BJP workers ride a bullock-cart as they take part in a rally during Bharat Bandh called to protest against petrol price hike in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. PTI Photo While the bandh was largely a success in NDA-ruled states, it was partial in states governed by the Congress.

Bangalore felt the impact of the bandh early in the morning as the state-owned Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) withdrew its buses following torching of three vehicles.

Commuters were hit hard by the BMTC action and many arriving long distance travellers were stranded at railway stations, bus stands and the airport. This proved a God-send for fleecing autorickshaw drivers, who bled their passengers with exorbitant fares, some charging as high as Rs 2,000 a trip. Airport taxis plied, except a few operators who refused bookings.

Some BMTC buses were subjected to stone-throwing in Bannerghatta and Madiwala past Wednesday midnight. BMTC put the loss from the three burnt buses at Rs 45 lakh. Further, the BMTC lost about 80 per cent of its daily revenue of about Rs 3 crore, while the KSRTC’s loss across the state was put at 60 per cent of it average daily revenue of Rs 6 crore. While shops and businesses in the City were closed, State and Central government undertakings worked with thin attendance. Many private firms declared a holiday.

Government schools too were closed as the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced a holiday in the morning. The bandh upset the Ist PU?admissions as the common merit list as well as list of rejected applicants were expected to be put up by colleges on Thursday.

Various social organisations and political parties held protests in the city condemning the steep increase in petrol price by the Central government. Among them were the BJP, All India Trade Union Congress and Socialist Unity Centre of India. State BJP president K S Eshwarappa and MP P C Mohan were among those taken into preventive custody.

Other states

The strongest response to the bandh came in BJP-led NDA strongholds like Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. The strike was total in Odisha where the ruling BJD too had joined the agitators. These states witnessed total shutdown of offices, including banks, and markets wore a deserted look as the right wing BJP and Left parties joined hands to organise the nation-wide stir. Sporadic violence was reported in some parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal as protesters torched buses and pelted stones.

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