New Delhi: Several opposition parties – led by Congress – have called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Monday to protest against catapulting petrol and diesel prices across the country to record levels. Price of both – already having set records earlier this year – rose for almost all of last week and petrol even breached the Rs 80/litre mark in the national capital.
Even as the common man grimaces daily, the government repeatedly blames global factors for the surge in prices. “Due to two major external factors this unavoidable situation is there in market. American dollar is creating a unique and unavoidable situation which is not good for world’s economy also,” Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said on Friday. He also blamed OPEC for not producing as much as previously assured. (Read full report here)
The opposition though is having none of it and has repeatedly charged the government of filling its coffers at the cost of people. There have been demand of fuel prices being included in Goods and Services Tax (GST) but not much has come of it. As such, even as some suspect ‘Bharat Bandh’ to be a political gimmick, others hope there is a price relief in the offing.
Here are the live and latest updates on the bandh from across the country:
* Zee News reporters in Bihar speak of violence in different parts of the state. News agency ANI reports of Jan Adhikar Party workers vandalising vehicles.
* BJP’s Mahesh Sharma tells Zee News that his party and the central government is sensitive to the needs of people. “If it (fuel prices) were in our control, we would fix the prices by this evening. The oil minister has already explained how global factors are at play, it is not in our hands.” He further adds that it is a temporary problem and a solution is around the corner.
* Congress workers in Mumbai come out in large numbers:
* Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh join Rahul and other senior politicians at Ramlila Maidan.
* Street drama takes over protests:
* Zee News correspondent Pooja Mehta from Kolkata reports that it is a regular Monday morning in the city with public transport networks – buses, taxis and trains – running as per schedule.
* Rahul Gandhi reaches Ramlila Maidan. He is what fellow Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Ghulam Nabi Azad as well as LJD’s Sharad Yadav and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
* Section 144 has been imposed in Gwalior. Close to 1000 security personnel deployed here to maintain order. Congress workers told to carry out protest marches with folded hands.
* Cops in Jaipur directed to take ‘stringent action’ against protestors found indulging in acts of violence and/or arson.
* Rahul Gandhi and fellow Congress leaders leave Raj Ghat and march towards Ramlila Maidan.
* Tense situation in Gujarat’s Bharuch:
* Supporters of RJD attempt to halt traffic on NH 30 near Danapur by burning tyres.
* Rahul Gandhi has cut short his Kailash Mansarovar yatra and has joined protests in Delhi’s Raj Ghat. (Read full report here)
* Quick recap of what’s been happening across the country since early hours of today:
* Zee News correspondents report from Mumbai:
– BEST buses running as per schedule.
– Auto rickshaws and taxis operating in limited numbers.
– Reports of private taxi service providers overcharging have been received.
– Several private schools have declared a holiday. Parents have been advised to check with schools before sending their wards.
– General shops likely to remain shut. Emergency services – chemists, grocers selling milk etc – to function without any hindrance.
– Wholesale vegetable market opened as per schedule.
* Section 144 – which prevents assembly of five or more people in an area – imposed in Jharkhand capital of Ranchi from 0500hrs to 1700hrs.
* Congress has said bandh would be in effect from 0900hrs till 1500hrs.
* Zee News correspondent Shailendra reports on the ground situation in Patna:
– Two thousand security personnel in place to ensure order.
– Special magistrates are on duty in 94 locations across the city.
– Bus and auto drivers participating in the bandh. Emergency services though remain active.
– Opposition leaders participating in the bandh will march from Gandhi Maidaan to Daak Bunglow. The march will begin from around 1100 hrs.
* Congress workers take to the streets in Telangana:
* There are 21 parties that are supporting the call for ‘Bharat Bandh’. While schools in Mumbai and Delhi remain open, they have been shut for the day in Bengaluru. In Kolkata, Trinamool Congress has extended support but government offices, schools and colleges remain open.
* I took a loan to buy a car. Now, I would need another to buy petrol – Take a look at what people and politicians are saying:
* Fuel prices maintain upward price surge on Monday.
* The most scathing attack on the Centre has probably come from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Party chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday said his party will support and actively participate in Monday’s protests and added that the ‘central government is collecting huge taxes on fuel to bring back the economy on track after the blunder of demonetisation.’ (Read full report here)
* How is your state likely to be affected by the bandh today. Click here to find out.
* Bus services of North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) are not operational today.
* Congress workers are up and about early in the morning. ANI reports that some of the party workers in Odisha’s Sambalpur blocked a train in the wee hours. The ruling Biju Janata Dal is neither opposing nor supporting the bandh.
* CPI(M) begins protests with placards and marches in Visakhapatnam. The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is not supporting the strike.
* Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje on Sunday had announced a 4% reduction in VAT collected on fuel in the state.
* Rival parties have previously called for fuel prices to be brought under GST.