TNM spoke to various unions, some of which have decided to support the bandh called by pro-Kannada groups while others are yet to decide.

File image of protests by pro-Kannada organisations in Bengaluru File photo
news Politics Friday, November 20, 2020 - 19:46

Auto rickshaws and cabs will not operate on December 5 as the auto drivers and taxi unions have offered their support for the state-wide bandh called by the pro-Kannada groups. Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha chief Vatal Nagaraj and various other pro-Kannada groups called for a state-wide bandh condemning BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government’s decision to allocate Rs 50 crore to set up the Maratha Development Board. Calling the move anti-Kannada and a divisive one to win the bye-elections in Basavakalyan, the pro-Kannada groups and unions are now demanding that a similar board be set up for each caste and also a board for the autorickshaw drivers and cab drivers. 

Bar owners have also offered their support for the bandh. Karnataka State bar Owners’ Association Vice president Karunakar Hegde said that bars would shut down across the state on December 5, since many unions have come forward to support the cause. However, Bengaluru and Karnataka Hotel Owners’ Association has decided to not offer their support and said that their establishments would remain open. Petrol pumps too, will remain open. 

Pro-Kannada organisations led by activist Vatal Nagaraj have called for a bandh on December 5. A meeting was held on Friday, where heads of various unions took part and deliberated on whether they would offer their support for the same. 

The Karnataka Peace Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association Raghu, said that the association has offered its “full support” to the cause and no autos will ply on the streets across the state on December 5. “In 2010, we began demanding that the state government set up a separate welfare board for autorickshaw drivers. It has been a decade and nothing has been done. Now they have set up a Maratha Board, just to win elections. As Kannadigas, we should condemn this. These politicians remember us only when elections come and they want votes,” Raghu said.

Tanveer Pasha, President of the Ola, TaxiForSure and Uber Association said that he too attended the meeting held on Friday with the heads of various unions and that cabs would not ply across the state on December 5. Besides, Namma Chalakara Trade Union, which comprises tourist taxi drivers, Ola and Uber drivers and also drivers of private buses has also decided to offer support for the bandh. 

“Private buses, Ola, Uber, drivers in our association will stop work on December 5. Just like the Maratha Development Board, taxi drivers too are demanding a welfare board to address our issues. If the government cannot meet our demands then they should roll back the decision to form the Maratha Development Board,” Somashekar Gowda, President of Namma Chalakara Trade Union said. 

The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation employees, however, said that they would take a decision regarding supporting the bandh only after November 26. Anantha Subba Rao, President of the KSRTC Staff and Workers Federation, said that the KSRTC employees are going on a strike on November 26 across the state. Anantha Rao said that employees have not been paid their full salaries since June this year and the government has been giving them only 70% of their pay. In addition, the employees are demanding that all four road transport boards in Karnataka be merged into one, in order to ensure better facilities. 

HD Revappa, President of the BMTC Drivers Union said that they too were taking part in the strike on November 26 and will decide soon. The Karnataka State Lorry owners’ Association President Shanmugappa said that the group is yet to decide on whether or not support would be offered. “We send out at least 45,000 vehicles to other states everyday. So we are still deliberating whether or not to offer support,” he said. 

Read: ‘Will not allow any group to force a bandh’: Karnataka Chief Minister Yediyurappa

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