New Delhi, Sep 20
Bharat Bandh, called by the BJP-led NDA, the Left parties, the SP and trade bodies to protest diesel price hike and FDI in multi-brand retail, today evoked mixed response with normal life paralysed in Opposition ruled states.
Top Opposition leaders courted arrest in different parts of the country while protesting against the government’s decisions.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said almost Rs 12,500 crore has been the loss to the country in terms of disruptions in production and trade due to the Bandh. Thousands of protesters blocked trains and road traffic in many areas in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and other places. However, the nationwide agitation was mainly peaceful as no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
The Bandh was near total in the BJP-NDA ruled states and Uttar Pradesh, where the Mulayam Singh-led SP also protested against the hike of Rs 5 in diesel price, FDI in multi-brand retail sector and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders.
The protestors across the country took to the streets raising slogans and blocking rail and road traffic.
A large number of trade bodies also supported the bandh. However, the Shiv Sena and the BSP were not part of the protest. In Delhi, the BJP blocked roads and burnt effigies of the government at 100 places across the city. Jantar Mantar was the main centre of the agitation where top leaders from the BJP, the Left, the SP and other parties protested and addressed the people.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Left leaders Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat and A B Bradhan and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu courted arrest at Parliament Street Police Station.
The leaders demanded immediate rollback of hike of Rs 5 per litre in diesel price, FDI in retail sector and limit of six subsidised LPG cooking cylinders per year to the consumers.
Mr Yechury and Mr Bardhan shared dais with BJP president Nitin Gadkari and senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi at a demonstration at Jantar Mantar.
Mr Yadav, however, did not share dais with the BJP leaders.
New Delhi: Unfazed by Opposition-led Bharat bandh
over the decision of the Union Government to hike diesel price
and allow FDI in multi-brand retail, the ruling Congress today
defended the reforms asserting that it was a step in the right direction.
Maintaining that there will be ‘no rollback,’ Law Minister
Salman Khurshid and Finance Minister P Chidambaram told the Opposition parties that now they have made their point and asked them to get back to work.
Mr Khurshid told reporters, ‘’The Opposition has shown its protest. Now lets get back to work. Back to our offices, factories, schools and colleges.’’
He maintained that these reforms are meant for common people
and will help them, so there is no question of rollback.
‘’We should support economic reforms in the country as they
are meant only to help the common man,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mr Chidambaram said the nationwide strike has caused a huge damage to the Indian economy and the common people.
‘’I think protesting a decision on economy should not be done in a way that causes economic losses,’’ he said.
This is the time to open Bharat and any attempt for ‘Bharat
bandh’ will be injurious to the economy in these challenging
times, he asserted.
They also reiterated that there is no threat to the Government.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit also slammed the bandh for being ‘anti-people’, saying ‘’by enforcing a shutdown, the Opposition are preventing
the poor from earning whatever little money they can earn.’’
He was also surprised that UPA allies were resorting to striking as well.