Bharat Bandh on Monday: Schools, transport services likely to be hit; Banks to function normally
The nationwide bandh called by All India Congress Committee on September 10 (Monday) against the rising prices of petrol and diesel is likely to hit schools, colleges and transport services, even as reports say that financial institutions will work as per the usual.
According to the protest clarion issued by Congress, the Bharat Bandh intends to raise voice against ‘price rise’, ‘fall’ of rupee against the dollar and other issues that ‘affect’ the people across the country.
President of the Karnataka unit of the party Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters in Bengaluru on Saturday that the countrywide shutdown was also to convey people’s ‘anger and hardship’ arising out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies in the hope that he implements plans that benefit the masses.
“Our objective is not to trouble people or torment them, this bandh should be spontaneous. We are living in the most difficult times,” he said.
While several parties like Left, RJD and JDS have offered their support to the protest, several other opposition parties have chosen to stay away.
JD(S), which runs a coalition government with the Congress in Karnataka, 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.
State president of JD(S) Adagur H Vishwanath told reporters that the Central government was working as an agent of corporates. “We are witnessing lawlessness in this country. The BJP government at the Centre is working as an agent of corporates,” he said.
The RJD announced Saturday its support to the Congress-called ‘Bharat bandh’ to protest against sky-rocketing fuel prices. RJD national vice president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh informed reporters in Patna about the party’s decision to extend support to Congress and Left sponsored countrywide shutdown on Monday.
“We have to strengthen our opposition’s unity in the proposed Bharat bandh… We will be actively participating in Bharat bandh for people’s interest,” Singh said at the party office. He said with the pace the fuel prices are increasing everyday, it seems that prices of petrol and diesel will soon touch the century mark.
Both the central and state governments are charging tax together 50 per cent of the total price of petrol/diesel per litre, Singh said, adding that the centre has raked in around Rs 11 lakh crore in the past four years by levying excise duty on petro products.
The ruling-party TMC has decided 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.
Along with the TMC, the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), a constituent of the Left Front too decided to stay away accusing major partner CPI(M)’s central leadership of not consulting it before taking the call.
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 Odisha government on Saturday directed all schools to remain closed on September 10 in view of the proposed ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the Congress.
School and Mass Education Department Secretary PK 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.
While, the Congress party is spearheading the Bharat Bandh across the country, its Goa unit has decided not to observe the protest to avoid inconvenience to local people ahead of the Ganesh festival. State Congress spokesperson Vijay Bhike said that the party will not observe the Bandh in Goa, because it will come in the way of people’s shopping ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi which is on September 13.
“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.
Opposition parties in Maharashtra appealed Saturday the Shiv Sena, an ally of the ruling BJP, to support the `Bharat Bandh’ against rising prices.
Addressing a press conference with Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, 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.
Nirupam said that state Congress chief Ashok Chavan is in touch with the Shiv Sena leader in this regard.
“Petrol and diesel is costliest in Maharashtra. We have been demanding that fuels be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but the government is not ready,” Nirupam said.
Fuel prices will come down by 50 per cent if brought under the GST, and the Centre has mopped up Rs 11 lakh crore by levying various cess and excise duties, he claimed.
Malik said the BJP is in power in 22 states and had it wished, it could have achieved consensus and brought fuel under the GST.
“The government used to levy a drought cess earlier (on petrol and diesel), but after the drought ended, the name of this cess was changed and it continues to be levied,” he said.
Malik also alleged that the government, to compensate for loss of tax revenue due to the ban on sale of liquor along the highways, is increasing the cess on fuels.
(With inputs from PTI)