New Delhi: The Congress-led Opposition has called for nationwide shutdown on Monday against the Narendra Modi government’s alleged failure to check the spiralling fuel prices. The parties that have extended their support to the bandh call include RJD, MDMK, DMK, NCP and the Samajwadi Party.
“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,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters on Thursday.
The Congress said it will observe the bandh between 9 am to 3 pm on Monday (September 10) so that the “common person is not inconvenienced”.
The fuel prices continued to spike on Sunday with petrol being sold at Rs 80.50 per litre in Delhi, 12 paise higher than Saturday’s price of Rs 80.38. The per litre price of diesel reached Rs 72.61 in the national capital. The prices for petrol and diesel in Mumbai were Rs 87.89 per litre and Rs 77.09 per litre respectively.
Meanwhile, the left parties have given a separate call for bandh on the same day over the hike in fuel prices, the problem of farmers and unemployment issues.
While several state governments have agreed to support the bandh called by the Congress, many others have refrained themselves from participating in the protests.
The Karnataka unit of the Congress party has geared up to make the nationwide bandh called by the All India Congress Committee on September 10 a success.
“Our objective is not to trouble people or torment them, this bandh should be spontaneous. We are living in the most difficult times,” said president of the state unit of the party Dinesh Gundu.
JD(S), which runs a coalition government with the Congress, has also extended support to the bandh. So has a host of organisations such as Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, KSRTC, BMTC, Ola and Uber Drivers and Owners Association, Private Taxi Owners Association, Tours and Travels Taxi Association, Auto Drivers’ Association.
Several schools and colleges across Bengaluru will be closed on Monday in wake of the shutdown call, reported Times of India.
According to the report, several educational institutions have decided to declare a holiday as transport services may be affected tomorrow.
“Private schools will not participate in the bandh in the interest of students. We have communicated to heads of educational institutions that they can use their discretionary powers to decide on giving a holiday. Schools can declare a holiday provided they conduct classes on Saturday,” TOI quoted Shashi Kumar D, secretary, Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, as saying.
The Odisha government on Saturday asked all schools to remain closed on Monday in view of the proposed ‘Bharat bandh’ called by the Congress.
School and Mass Education Department Secretary P K Mohapatra, in a letter to district collectors, said that all schools, both government and private, should remain shut on Monday.
Earlier, the state government had directed all district collectors to take preventive measures to maintain law and order and ensure maintenance of essential services in the districts during the planned strike.
“It is apprehended that they (Congress and the Left) may stop vehicular traffic, rail traffic and close down business establishments and picket before government offices, banks and educational institutions,” Home Department Special Secretary Santosh Bala said in another letter to the collectors.
The RJD on Saturday extended its support to the nationwide shutdown called by the Congress against sky-rocketing fuel prices.
The senior leader of Lalu Prasad’s party also announced that the RJD would organise “jail bharo” in January next year to “uproot” Narendra Modi-led government which has “failed on all fronts especially in taming the fuel prices”.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) announced on Sunday that it will support the shutdown called by the Congress-led opposition to protest against the fuel price hike.
Opposition parties had appealed the Shiv Sena, an ally of the ruling BJP, to support the Bharat bandh against the rising fuel prices.
Addressing a press conference with Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam here, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “MNS leader Raj Thackeray is calling for opposition unity. So we expect he will support this Bandh.
“It is also a great opportunity for Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to give a jolt to the BJP government. If the financial capital (Mumbai) shuts down, it will be like the whole country shut down,” Malik said.
The Goa unit of the Congress has said it will not take part in the nation-wide bandh to avoid inconvenience to local people ahead of the Ganesh festival.
“We support the call given by our party at the national level but we won’t have a Bandh in Goa as people are busy shopping for the Ganesh Chaturthi festivities,” he said.
The party will carry out a peaceful awareness campaign at petrol pumps on the issue of price rise, state Congress spokesperson Vijay Bhike.
The TMC has announced its to stay away from Bharat bandh in West Bengal. On Friday, TMC said that it backed the issues that led to the Opposition parties to call for the shutdown like rising prices of essential commodities but ruled out its participation.
The West Bengal Congress Saturday termed the ruling TMC’s stand on the September 10 bandh “self-contradictory” and blamed it for compounding the problem of rising fuel prices by imposing VAT on petrol and diesel.
The DMK has extended its support to the bandh called by the Congress-led opposition and said would play an active part in making it a success.
DMK chief MK Stalin has urged all sections of people, including government employees, teachers, traders and state transport corporation workers, to voluntarily support the bandh to “teach the BJP government a fitting lesson”.
What is the Govt’s Stand on Fuel Price Hike
Defending the government from the criticism by the opposition over the fuel price hike, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday attributed the spike in price to international factors, including the depreciation of the Indian rupee against the US dollar.
The spike in prices has renewed calls for cut in excise duty but Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has remained non-committal, saying international oil prices are volatile and have not shown any linear movement.
Since mid-August, petrol price has risen by Rs 3.24 a litre and diesel by Rs 3.74 per litre as rupee hit record low against the US dollar, making imports costlier.
This is the biggest increase in rates in any fortnight since the daily price revision was introduced in mid-June last year.
The Central government had raised excise duty on petrol by Rs 11.77 a litre and that on diesel by 13.47 a litre in nine installments between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then cut the tax just once in October last year by Rs 2 a litre.
This led to its excise collections from petro goods more than doubling in the last four years — from Rs 99,184 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 2,29,019 crore in 2017-18. States saw their VAT revenue from petro goods rise from Rs 1,37,157 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,84,091 crore in 2017-18.