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Bharat Bandh called by opposition against fuel price hike begins

Monday, July 05, 2010 09:59:36 AM, & Agencies

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New Delhi: The Left and non-Congress parties have called for a 12-hour Bharat Bandh on Monday to protest against the hike in fuel prices but the government has ruled out reconsidering at its decision.


Normal life is likely to be affected throughout the country though the Opposition parties have promised essential services like milk, water, hospitals will not be forced to shut down.

But road transport may suffer. In Delhi, many school and chartered buses will not run as protestors are planning to block roads. Also, with many traders' associations supporting the bandh, shops and markets, are also likely to remain closed - including many major markets in Delhi.

'Transporters join the strike'

Also, joining the bandh, as many as 62 lakh trucks and other vehicles deployed in India's road transport sector will be off the roads Monday in support of the nationwide shutdown to protest against rising prices and the fuel price hike, a truckers' organisation said.

The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) termed as "unjustified" the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel.

"It has not only affected the road transport fraternity but also the common man of the country too," said AIMTC president G.R. Shanmugappa in a statement.

'Mumbai ready to tackle the Bandh'

In Mumbai, security is being provided to buses and suburban trains. Mumbaikars will probably have to pack their own lunches, as dabbawallas too have joined the strike.

Scores of alleged BJP and Shiv Sena workers allegedly attacked buses and autorickshaws early on Monday morning. Mumbai Police has detained several Shiv Sainiks and sent notices to the BJP and Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena (MNS) leaders on Saturday.

Several video cameras have been installed at prominent locations to keep a watch on protesters. Maharashtra Chief  Minister Ashok Chavan has appealed all the ‘Mantralaya’ employees to report to work at night to avoid inconvenience.

'Gujarat to protest'

The neighbouring BJP-ruled Gujarat is going all out to ensure the success of the Monday shutdown call as part of the party's national programme to protest rising prices and the fuel price hike. Already party workers have fanned out asking educational institutions to stay closed and even corporate entities have been discreetly told to stay shut.

Many schools and colleges across several states have decided to remain closed due to the bandh.

Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are states which are most likely to be affected by the band as they are ruled by the Opposition.

Opposition parties in other states like Tamil Nadu, UP and Andhra are also supporting the bandh.

Most of Opposition parties, excluding RJD, BSP, LJP and RLD, are participating in the nation-wide strike.

The participating parties are the BJP, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, JD-U, CPI-M, CPI, Forward Block, RSP, AIADMK, MDMK TDP, BJD, JD(S), AGP, Akali Dal and INLD.

On June 25, a ministerial panel, headed by Mukherjee, had lifted the pricing controls on petroleum. As a result, petrol went up by Rs 3.50 a litre. The government hiked the prices of diesel by Rs 2 a litre, kerosene - known as the poor  man's fuel and traditionally spared during periodic fuel price hikes - by Rs 3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs 35 per cylinder.


'Propaganda War'
Meanwhile, in reply to the advertisements issued by the Congress-led ruling alliance that appeared in newspapers in last few days comparing the LPG and Kerosene prices in neighboring countries with India, the opposition is circulating the prices of petrol via SMSes and other means.


Stating that all the major oil companies have registered huge profits, Bharatiya Janata Party national spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday said petroleum products in neighbouring countries were far cheaper and accused the Congress of “pandering to the interests of middlemen and brokers.”

“A glance at the petrol prices in our neighbouring countries reveals all. Per litre price of petrol in Pakistan is Rs. 26, in Bangladesh it is Rs.22, while in Nepal it hovers at a reasonable Rs. 34. Even in strife-ridden Afghanistan, its price is not more than Rs. 33 per litre. The UPA government should stop burdening the common man with petrol prices as high as Rs. 53 a litre,” he said.

Addressing journalists on the eve of the Bharat bandh called by the NDA in protest against the rising prices of petroleum and essential commodities, Prasad said the Central government had no reason to hike the petroleum prices on the pretext that oil companies were not doing well financially.

“Indian Oil has netted profits to the tune of Rs. 4,663 crore for the 2009-10 fiscal, while Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have made robust profits of Rs. 834 crore and Rs. 544 crore respectively. In fact, all the major oil companies were running in profit,” he said.

The country had seen the worst inflationary trends under the prime ministership of Manmohan Singh, he alleged.




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