The Congress will today organize a nationwide shutdown or BharatBandh to protest rising fuel prices. The Congress has asked other opposition parties and civil society groups to join their protest against the government. 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 BharatBandh 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.
The Congress along with the JD(S), who run a coalition government in Karnataka, will gear up to organise the BharatBandh in the state. Schools and colleges in the state capital Bengaluru, will be closed today and daily life will likely be affected. Public transport, cinema theatres, multiplexes among others. 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 BharatBandh called by the Congress. The reason, it said, was that strikes like the BharatBandh 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 BharatBandh 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.