New Delhi: Riding bullock carts, horse carts and bicycles, Congress leaders and workers took to the streets on Monday in country-wide protests against the fuel price hike and accused the Centre of adding to the financial hardships of the people reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Also Read - 'Going Through Tough Time Due to COVID': Petroleum Minister Says Fuel Price Rise Due to Pandemic
Scores of mask-wearing protesters were detained by police for violating coronavirus lockdown restrictions related to assembly of people. In Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the ministers too joined the demonstrations.
Here’s how they protested in Bihar:
Participating in the Congress’ ‘Speak Up Against Fuel Hike’ campaign across the country, party president Sonia Gandhi accused the BJP-led central government of setting “a new example of extortion”, and sought an immediate rollback.
Party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also took part in the campaign on social media and urged the people to join them in pressing the government to reduce fuel prices.
Diesel price has been hiked 22 times and the petrol price has been raised 21 times since June 7 with a cumulative increase of Rs 11.14 and Rs 9.17 respectively.
The agitating Congress leaders and workers in Punjab rode horse carts with scooters loaded on them. State Congress chief Sunil Jakhar along with MLA Angad Saini, Punjab Youth Congress chief Barinder Dhillon and other local leaders pulled a tractor with ropes.
“Farmers cannot afford to run tractors now with such a steep hike in diesel rates,” Jakhar said.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Hyderabad:
AICC general secretary Harish Rawat rode a bullock cart in Dehradun during the protest and performed puja at a Shiva temple praying for “good sense” to prevail on the central government.
Leading a dharna at the Congress office, its Uttarakhand chief Pritam Singh said his party “will not tolerate this loot of people’s money by the Modi government”.
Rajasthan Congress president and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot led the protest in Jaipur. He said that petrol and diesel prices directly affect the common people. The Centre did not form any policy to deal with the economic slowdown and passed the burden on the common people, he said.
Several Congress ministers in Maharashtra, including Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan and Nitin Raut, staged a protest at the party office in Mumbai.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan led a protest in Sangli along with state minister Vishwajit Kadam. Besides, state minister Satej Patil staged a protest against the fuel price hike in Kolhapur.
Congress leaders, led by Karnataka state president DK Shivakumar and former chief minister Siddaramaiah, took out a bicycle rally up to the Congress office in Bengaluru, through social distancing and all the other norms to contain coronavirus apparently went for a toss during the protest.
In the national capital, the members of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and its president Srinivas BV rode a bullock cart from the outfit’s headquarters at Raisina Road to Shastri Bhawan, where police stopped them.
Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar and party workers were detained as they tried to go to Raj Niwas, which is Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s official residence, to lodge their protest against the rising prices of petrol and diesel.
Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda and nearly 50 other party workers were detained in Ahmedabad while they were trying to take out a rally against the fuel price hike. Party workers in Jammu rode two-horse carts and raised slogans against the central government.