President Patil’s ‘Deepavali gift’ to Karnataka


Bangalore : People across Karnataka are thanking President Pratibha Patil for giving them a breather from disruptive political agitations ahead of Deepavali by agreeing to meet a group of legislators over rival claims to rule the state.

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“Sit-in protests at the city centre and perhaps rallies would have intensified and marred the festive spirit if the president had declined to meet the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislators,” said N. Kusuma, an officer with a nationalised bank as she shopped for clothes with her husband and two kids at the fashionable Brigade Road in Bangalore.

Following the support from the JD-S, the BJP last month made the claim to form a government in the state, which has been under the president’s rule. To press their claim, the two parties’ legislators met the president in New Delhi Tuesday evening.

Many Bangaloreans agreed with Kusuma as they had seen how two days of sit-in protests by BJP last week followed by a Congress rally had thrown traffic out of gear in the city where traffic jams are a daily affair.

“Now that the legislators of the two parties have been given a patient hearing by President Patil, hopefully they, particularly BJP, will not resume the agitation and be patient for a decision by the central government,” said K. Nataraj, who works for a leading central public sector undertaking.

Kusuma and Nataraj were among the thousands out shopping for clothes, jewellery, crackers and flowers and other necessities for pooja Thursday when Deepavali will be celebrated in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka.

In several parts of north India, the festival is on Friday.

Thursday is a government holiday and many working in government offices have planned an extended weekend as Nov 10 – a second Saturday of the month – is also observed as a holiday.

The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation is running additional buses to other districts from Bangalore as many would like to go back to their native places to celebrate the festival or to tourist places.

All prime market areas in Bangalore have been decked up from Monday itself to welcome shoppers who are being offered the usual festival discounts and gift vouchers.

With many from north India making Bangalore their home in the last decade or so in the wake of the IT boom, the spirit of ‘Dhanteras’ (Deepavali eve considered auspicious to buy jewellery) has caught up with Bangalore jewellers who have been heavily advertising for the last few days about the new designs and offers they have for the shoppers.

Brigade Road and Commercial Street in the central business district are usually crowded in the evenings, particularly with youngsters who like to just hang around the fashionable area. Since Tuesday evening the two roads are jam-packed with people and it takes more than half an hour to go from one end to the other – just about 200 to 300 metres!

Apart from the relief from the political drama that has gripped the state since Oct 2 and festival mood, there is also excitement of watching the India-Pakistan second ODI at Mohali on Thursday.

“Since it will be Deepavali eve at Mohali and the match will be played under lights, we expect lot of fireworks there too,” said N Vidyabhushan, a college student.

His friends John Thomas and Adarsh Das were apprehensive that BESCOM (Bangalore Electric Supply Company) may play spoilsport by resorting to unscheduled loadshedding, a frequent occurrence in the city.

A BESCOM spokesperson, however, promised not to spoil the celebratory mood and said there will be uninterrupted power supply.