Leaders of various opposition parties led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi kickstarted the country-wide protest against rising fuel prices from Rajghat as part of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by the party. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala had said that the common man was bearing the burden of escalating prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.
The Congress said 21 opposition parties are supporting the Bharat Bandh along with a number of chambers of commerce and traders’ associations.
The party demanded that petrol and diesel should be brought under GST, by which oil prices could drop by about Rs. 15 to Rs. 18.
Schools and colleges in Bengaluru in Karnataka, where the Congress shares power with JD(S), will be closed today and daily life will likely be affected. A host of organisations such as Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, KSRTC, BMTC, Ola and Uber Drivers and Owners Association, Auto Drivers’ Association will lend their support to the Bharat Bandh in Karnataka.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress said that while it supported the issues related to increasing fuel prices, it would not support the Bharat Bandh called by the Congress. The reason, it said, was that strikes like the Bharat Bandh would lead to a waste of working hours. Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee had urged the Trinamool activists and common people to keep shops and establishments functional today.
In Odisha, the ruling BJD has also refused to support the Bharat Bandh called by the Congress. Toeing the Trinamool line, it also said that it was against the hike in fuel prices. The Odisha government has however, announced that all schools in the state would be closed today to ensure the safety of students.