Opposition finds united voice in bandh; BJP decries shutdown

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Sep 10, 2018
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Centre refuses to trim levy on fuel

A ‘Bharat bandh’ called to protest the upward spiral of fuel prices and the plummeting value of the rupee found support from 22 opposition parties on Monday and became the platform for a joint agitation against the Narendra Modi government.

Road blockades and rallies marked the protests in various parts of the country, and the Opposition termed the shutdown a success. With both the Central and regional governments coming under pressure to reduce duties, which form almost half the retail price of fuel, some States pruned the levies. However, the Centre refused to yield, saying a reduction in duties would affect its expenditure on popular schemes.

Meanwhile, the BJP said the Opposition had used violence to intimidate people and said the bandh was a complete failure. The hike in fuel prices, the ruling party said, was due to factors beyond the Centre’s control. “We are standing with the people in their problem. We are trying to redress the issue,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Law and Justice and Information Technology.

He claimed the hike in taxes had helped the Centre raise its spend on a number of welfare schemes. The Centre spent over ₹1.62-lakh crore on subsidised food, and lakhs of crores on building national highways and rural roads, and had given over one crore houses to the rural poor, he claimed.




Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of not having done anything for the people in his four years as PM. “It is true that he (Modi) did things in the last four years which would not have been possible in the previous 70 years,” Gandhi said, and added: “...The rupee was never this weak. Petrol and diesel are around ₹80 now. LPG prices are also high; PM is silent.”

“Only crony capitalists have their say in this government. Thousands of crores of rupees have been taken away from common people and handed over to corporate houses. All Opposition parties are united to defeat the BJP. We share the agonies of people of this country. Modi and BJP leaders are apathetic towards the issues of common man,” Rahul said.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government had failed to fulfil its promises to “farmers, small traders, and unemployed youth”. He added that “the time to change this government will soon arrive,” and exhorted parties in the Opposition to “forget their differences and work together for the country.”

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Centre had controlled oil prices until the Karnataka polls. “Jobs are lost. The rupee is crashing. The farm sector faces an unprecedented crisis. Exports and manufacturing have all been run aground by the Modi government. Benefits via loot of public money are passed onto crony friends. Fuel prices, NPAs, jumla s and publicity are the only things on the rise,” Yechury said while addressing a Left rally.

Published on September 10, 2018

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