By Prarthana Mitra
In light of the record hike in petrol and diesel prices, the Congress has announced a countrywide bandh on Monday, September 10, to ratchet up the pressure on Narendra Modi’s BJP government.
“The Congress party has decided that we will give a call for Bharat Bandh on September 10, Monday, in order to highlight the Rs 11 lakh crore fuel loot, to demand that there should be immediate reduction in central excise duty and excessive VAT in the states, and that petrol and diesel be brought within GST so that the common man whose budget has gone haywire, they are provided the requisite relief,” Congres leader Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.
Several opposition parties including Samajwadi Party, DMK and the NCP, have extended their support along with Leftist parties who’ve agreed to observe the strike separately. Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal won’t enforce a complete shutdown but plans to take the protests to the streets. Congress has also planned to observe the bandh from 9 AM to 3 PM, to minimise inconvenience to the common mass.
Why the protest
Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Ahmed Patel, Motilal Vora and Mallikarjun Kharge addressed the media about the inordinate rise in crude oil prices, which does not only affect transport, cooking gas and other essential commodities costs, but is also causing the free fall of the rupee. As petrol breached its Rs.80 mark in Delhi on Saturday, the government is yet to convey what measures it will be taking to tackle further price fluctuations.
“Most of the opposition parties have given their consent to support, but still consultations is going on with three or four parties,” said Patel, adding that BSP has not been consulted yet. He said that the Left parties, Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, and others have lent their support to the Congress on the issue.
Trinamool Congress, he said, extends the fullest cooperation and solidarity, but as the ruling party in the state, CM Mamata Banerjee won’t call for a state-wide bandh just yet. “As far TMC is concerned, they have agreed for the agitation but they will not give the bandh call,” Patel was reported as saying.
On Thursday, another Bharat Bandh shook northern and central states including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. Massive demonstrations enforced the closure of shops, gas stations and schools, and droned surveillance defined the strike that mobilised certain upper-caste organisations against the recent overruling of the diluted SC/ST Act. Although strikers and agitators in these states ensured life came to a standstill in cognizance of their demands, the shutdown call by anti-reservation bodies had little impact elsewhere in the country.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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