Opposition joins hands over Bharat Bandh

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Most of the opposition parties on Sunday announced their support to the Bharat Bandh called by the Congress and Left Front to protest against the rising fuel prices and have a showdown with the Modi government that has evaded a direct explanation to the non-stop rise in fuel prices.

While parties like the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), DMK, Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Maharshtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) backed the shutdown, the Left has also declared a nationwide hartal.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), a non-NDA party, said although it is against the fuel price hike, it will not support the Bandh. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took a similar stand in Delhi.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) ruling in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana respectively, are also not supporting the call.

In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has said it supports the issues raised by parties that have called for a nationwide shutdown, but it is against strikes since these lead to loss of working hours.

However, the party will hold protest rallies across West Bengal against rising fuel prices.

“We support the issues raised by them. But at the same time, we do not want to waste another working day, especially when our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to build a new Bengal,” TMC Secretary General Partha Chatterjee has said.

The Congress wants petrol and diesel to be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which would decrease the price “by Rs 15-18 per litre”. It also wants an immediate reduction in central excise duty and “excessive VAT” in states.

Congress leader Ajay Maken on Sunday said that close to “20 political parties” will take part in the protest.

Left Front Chairman Biman Bose called for a 12-hour strike from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday across West Bengal in support of the all India “protest hartal” and urged people in the state to make it a grand success.

Karnataka’s ruling JD-S announced it will support the day-long nationwide protest.

“Our party has decided to support the Congress call in protest against the steep hike in fuel prices and other anti-people policies of the NDA-led government,” a JD-S official told IANS in Bengaluru.

The Congress and JD-S will also protest against the misuse of the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax office against opposition leaders.

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda will join other opposition leaders at a protest rally and meeting in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, state governments across the country braced for the Bandh with senior officials reviewing the security measures and many states deciding to keep schools shut on Monday.

The BJP’s Tripura government has ordered all its employees to attend office on Monday and warned that strict action will be taken against absentees.

Acting Chief Minister and Revenue Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma urged the people to reject the ‘bandh’ and warned that that the government would strongly deal with the situation.

Odisha’s ruling BJD said it will not support the Bharat Bandh. The party, however, said it is against the hike in fuel prices.

“We have been holding protests across the state for the last three days to make the people aware of the steep price rise of the petroleum products,” said BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra.

The Odisha government has declared that schools will remain closed on Monday to ensure the safety of the students.

Pledging support to the Bandh, DMK leader M.K. Stalin said the Modi government is not doing anything to halt the rupee’s slide against the dollar or to control the fuel prices, which appear to be marching towards Rs 100 per litre.

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