Lucknow: The call by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad for nationwide bandh on Sunday, the February 23 seems to be getting widespread support from multiple political and social outfits. The Dalit leader has called for a shutdown against the Supreme Court ruling that states were not bound to provide reservation in government jobs and quota in promotion.
Issues like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register for Citizens (NRC) and thrashing of Dalits in recent past have also been included in the bandh call.
In Uttar Pradesh, the call has got support of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia (PSPL) led by Shivpal Yadav, the younger brother of Samajwadi Patry patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, while in Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav led Rashtriya Janata Dal had announced its support to the Bharat Bandh.
Azad, who recently got out on bail after being arrested during the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protest at the Jama Masjid, will be in Maharashtra's Aurangabad, while his outfit will be leading the Bharat Bandh call across many states. On the eve of bandh, Bhim Army supporters even made "23 February Bharat Bandh" trend on top on social networking site Twitter.
The first glimpse of the Bharat Bandh came from Seelampur-Jaffarabad area of Delhi where thousands of women came out and blocked the road outside Jaffarabad metro station around 12:30am on Sunday. Tweeting on the issue, Azad said, "It is still almost six hours to sunrise but the mothers and sisters of Seelampur have blown the bugle of Bharat Bandh."
The Chairman of SC Department of Congress, Nitin Raut, also tweeted in favour of the bandh. "To save the Constitution and to save the reservation, I whole-heartedly support the Bharat Bandh given on 23rd February. Reservation is our pride, respect and our constitutional rights and we cannot let it go at any cost. Long live Constitution. Jai Bhim," he tweeted.
Earlier on Saturday, Azad hoisted the triclour in front of the RSS headquarters in Nagpur and also addressed a Tiranga Rally on the occasion. AT the event, he called for a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and challenged it to fight elections directly.
"I want to give a suggestion to the Sangh chief: take out the veil of lies and come to the field. It is a democracy. Contest direct elections with your agenda and people will tell you if Manusmriti or Constitution will run the country," he was quoted as saying by a media report.