In Bengaluru today, a Bandh has been called by the Karnataka State Private Vehicles Owner Association to oppose the Shakti scheme, one of the ruling Congress party’s five pre-election guarantees. This scheme offers free travel to women on government buses, a move private transport operators believe will negatively impact their profits.
The federation, representing a total of 32 private transport associations, has organized the strike, which is expected to disrupt most private transport services in the city. The strike is scheduled to run from midnight on Sunday to midnight on Monday, as indicated by the Bengaluru traffic police, who have issued a traffic advisory for the public to plan their commute accordingly.
The primary reasons behind the private transporters’ protest are their demands for a ban on bike taxis and an extension of the Shakti scheme to cover private buses. They argue that the Shakti scheme has adversely affected their business and that the state government has not addressed their concerns despite numerous discussions.
In response to these demands, State Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy has stated that the private transport union is seeking ₹1,000 crore in compensation. He also mentioned that some issues related to this matter are pending in the High Court and Supreme Court, but the government has taken action on matters within its jurisdiction.
To mitigate the impact of the Bandh, the Karnataka Transport Department has put in place contingency plans. Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy assured the public that Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses have been arranged to prevent inconvenience. Extra BMTC buses, approximately 500, have been mobilized to cater to school children, office-goers, and hospital-bound patients.
Additionally, the transport minister has instructed officials to deploy government buses along school and college routes and near hospitals to ensure minimal disruption to daily life. The strike is expected to affect lakhs of vehicles, including autos, taxis, goods vehicles, school vehicles, and corporate buses.
The situation remains tense as private transport operators and the government continue their negotiations amidst the Bandh.