New Delhi: 5:42 pm: The Trinamool Congress organised a rally in Kolkata against foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail and diesel price hike. The rally was led by Trinamool Congress MP Mukul Roy.
Speaking to mediapersons, Roy said that ministers from the party would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and resign on Friday afternoon. He further said that the ministers had also sought an appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee.
4:27 pm: Addressing a press conference, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad ruled out the possibility of a Third Front.
Prasad said, "Third Front is history now. This country will be lead either by the Congress or the BJP."
4:03 pm: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said that though she opposed the UPA government politically, she could not support bandh, which have ruined the state of West Bengal.
She also thanked the state police for tackling the situation in the state, adding that people who disrupted the transport system would be dealt with strongly.
3:15 pm: BJP President Nitin Gadkari slammed the government saying it brought FDI in retail and diesel price hike to divert attention from scams.
"The credibility of the UPA government is completely lost due to corruption charges. The government was not able to control price rise and nor was it able to get the black money stacked in foreign banks back into the country. The government introduced FDI in retail to divert attention of the people from the three important issues and this has been suicidal," Gadkari said.
3:00 pm: Mulayam Singh Yadav has dared the UPA government that he will think of a political alternative if the government does not roll back the diesel price hike and FDI in retail decision.
Speaking during the Bharat Bandh on Thursday, Mulayam said, "If the government does not roll back its decisions, then we will have work to announce an alternative."
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury also hinted at a Third Front saying non-Congress and non-BJP parties should come together. "It is true that the people need a political alternative based on policies, an attempt is on in this direction. We want non-Congress and non-BJP political parties to come together based on policies to give a political alternative," Yechury said.
1:55 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and other leaders who had courted arrest at the Parliament Street in Delhi have been released.
1:40 pm: The train services of the South Eastern Railway were partially affected due to Bharat Bandh. Six trains were cancelled on the route and 16 trains were delayed as many trains were halted at various stations.
1:32 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, along with Left leaders AB Bardhan, Sitaram Yechuri, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav and TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu courted arrest at the Parliament street in Delhi.
1:18 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party leader BS Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar courted arrest in Bangalore during the Bharat Bandh protest.
BJP workers ransacked and destroyed government buses in Barasat in West Bengal. Some of the passengers sustained injuries.
12:50 pm: Addressing the crowd at Jantar Mantar, Mulayam Sigh Yadav lashed out at the government over fuel price hike and FDI. "The government is taking an anti-people stand. Farmers are the losers. The government should roll back or we will protest," Mulayam said.
12:40 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav held a separate protest at Jantar Mantar to avoid sharing stage with the BJP. Mulayam shared stage with Left leader Prakash Karat.
12:35 pm: Slogans in support of Mamata Banerjee were raised at the traders protest at Jantar Mantar in the presence of the Left and NDA leaders.
12:30 pm: BJP President Nitin Gadkari addressed the supporters at Jantar Mantar and said, "Bharat Bandh is a complete success. The people have come above party lines to support the bandh against FDI in retail for the country."
12:10 pm: BJP President Nitin Gadkari, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and CPI leader AB Bardhan reached Jantar Mantar.
The BJP and Left shared stage at the protest called by Federation of All India Traders.
11:38 am: CPM and TMC workers clashed in Asansol in West Bengal during the Bharat Bandh agitation in the state. The clash happened after the CPM workers forced shutdown of an SBI branch in Asansol.
11:30 am: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad was detained in Patna during the Bharat Bandh protest being carried out by him and his supporters.
11:00 am: Samajwadi Party workers also burned the Prime Minister's effigy in Allahabad.
10:30 am: Shiv Sena workers in Punjab burned an effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as shops remained shut in the protests against fuel price hike.
10:00 am:In Odisha, the BJD was not supporting the bandh due to 'Nua Khai' festival. The bandh was mostly by the BJP and Left parties in Odisha. Normal life was hit as public transport, schools, colleges, banks and markets were closed due to bandh. Trains were also blocked at the Bhubaneswar railway station since morning.
Major trains blocked in Bhubaneswar in Odisha were the Janshatabdi Express, Guwahati-Ernakulam Express and Howrah-Kurla Express.
Trains were also stopped in Kanpur, Patna and Amritsar.
9:28 am: JD(U) workers disrupted train movement at Darbhanga and Samastipur as they blocked the railway track.
9:00 am: A scuffle broke out between the TMC workers and BJP workers in Howrah. BJP workers were taking out a rally in support of the bandh and TMC workers were against it. The two rallies met and a scuffle broke out.
In Bangalore, government and private schools were shut, restaurants across Bangalore will also remain shut. KSRTC and BMTC buses were also off the roads though autorickshaws were plying in the city providing some relief to commuters.
8:00 am: The nationwide bandh called by the NDA and the Left parties started early on Thursday morning with the Samajwadi Party workers stopping trains in Allahabad. The BJP and JD(U) workers also stopped trains in Varanasi and Patna.
In Delhi, while many autorickshaws will remain off the roads, some of them were working early in the morning.
The nationwide protests on Wednesday against fuel price hike and FDI in retail are likely to bring life to a stand-still in major cities. The strike call has been given by both the NDA and the Third front parties.
Shiv Sena, though, has opted out of it. BJP leaders have fanned out to all major cities to lead the protest. Sushma Swaraj will be in Bhopal, Nitin Gadkari in Delhi, Rajnath Singh in Lucknow and Venkaiah Naidu in Hyderabad. Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party along with the Left and TDP has given a separate call for a bandh and its leaders will protest in Delhi.
Mulayam, top Left leaders and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu will share the dais. DMK is the only UPA ally which has endorsed the bandh, while Mayawati's BSP has kept itself away from the protest.
The Trinamool Congress and AIADMK will also stay away from the bandh. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has warned that her government would not allow forcible enforcement of the bandh called by the CPI(M).
Protests are expected in all major cities including the national capital. Autorickshaws will stay off the road and markets will be shut in Delhi as the BJP plans to march to the Prime Minister's house and may court arrest.
The bandh is expected to have maximum impact in BJP-ruled states like Karnataka and Gujarat. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are likely to be hit, too, with the JD(U) and the Samajwadi Party supporting the bandh respectively.
The Shiv Sena, MNS and BJD have also decided not to participate in the bandh due to Ganpati Utsav.
Assam government would enforce pay cut, break in service and disciplinary action against employees who do not report for work during 'Bharat Bandh'.
Traders' body CAIT said its members in different states will also observe a bandh in protest against the government's decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail sector.
"There will be no commercial activity across the country. Traders in different cities will take out protest marches and demonstrations," Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Praveen Khandelwal told reporters.
He said several leaders of different political parties, which are also observing the nation-wide bandh, will address a rally of retail traders at Jantar Mantar.
About 25,000 trade associations representing five crore traders, hawkers, labourers and farmers will participate in the bandh, Khandelwal claimed.
(With additional information from PTI)