In Goa, people flock to Lord Ganesh, ignore shutdown
Lord Ganesh emerged the hero while the all-India shutdown called by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left was virtual a zero here, as Goa, oblivious to the strike call, readied to bid adieu to the popular deity Thursday.
The nationwide strike against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's decision to hike diesel price, cap number of subsidised LPG cylinders and allow foreign direct investment in the retail sector proved to be a damp squib in Goa.
Although Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons Vishnu Wagh and Narendra Savoikar could not be contacted for their comments on the near failure of the shutdown, a senior BJP leader admitted that it was impractical to enforce the strike during the festive season.
"The timing is bad for us in Goa. To orchestrate a bandh on a day of festivity is impossible," the leader said.
No incident related to the shutdown was reported anywhere in the state, which saw life minimally affected by the strike call.
State government offices were closed owing to the two-day holiday for the Ganapati festival, while a majority of private institutions too downed shutters for the same reason.
However, the BJP drew flak for announcing the shutdown on the second day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the most important festival in the Hindu calendar in these parts.
On the second day of the festival, many households immerse the idol of Lord Ganesh into water bodies, while others prefer to complete the immersion ritual either on the fifth, seventh or on the 21st day of the celebration.
"It is unfortunate that the leaders of the two BJP-ruled states - Goa and Karnataka - did not even try to convince their national leaders to respect the religious feelings of the people," Shantaram Naik, the Congress' Rajya Sabha member from Goa, told IANS.
Convenor of the Goa Bus Owners Association (GBOA) Sudip Tamhankar said the NDA-sponsored bandh came at a wrong time.
"During this festival (Ganesh Chaturthi), people visit their relatives and pay homage to Ganapati Bappa, but because of the strike they had to think twice," Tamhankar said.
Spokesperson of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) Manoj Solanki said, "During any bandh, people are held at ransom, especially during a festival it is more troubling."
For traders like Anand Mhapsekar, who runs a store at Parra, about 15 km from here, business was as usual Thursday.
"There was no question of defying the bandh. Just that today it was impractical. A lot of people will be immersing the idol in water bodies today. There is also the grand feast. Keeping the shutters down is impossible," Mhapsekar said.