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Price rise: Oppn to enforce Bharat bandh; Govt rules out roll-back

Even as the Oppn consolidated efforts for success of Monday’s nationwide shutdown against price rise, the Centre refused to roll back the recent hike.

Updated: Jul 04, 2010, 23:41 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Even as the opposition NDA and Left parties consolidated efforts on Sunday to ensure tomorrow’s nationwide shutdown against price rise proves to be a success, the Centre has refused to roll back the recent hike in fuel prices.

While Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee made it clear a roll-back in the hike in prices of petroleum products and LPG was not on the cards, his colleague and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said the ‘Bharat bandh’ was "not a solution" and that it was unjustified.

"No question of roll-back," Mukherjee told reporters in Kolkata.

The authorities were also busy today preparing for Monday’s planned shutdown to ensure no untoward incident takes place during the strike.

However, despite the government’s efforts normal life is likely to be affected, though the opposition has said it will not disrupt emergency services.

Public transport, including air and rail traffic, is likely to be hit in many places. Also, schools, colleges and offices are likely to remain shut in several cities.

Protesters also plan to disrupt the Delhi Metro services tomorrow.

Essential services like milk, water, hospitals have been exempt from participation in the bandh, organisers said.

Meanwhile, in a bid to ensure the shutdown against fuel price hike and the government`s "failure" to control price rise is a “success”, top leaders of the BJP-led NDA met here and chalked out the strategy to enforce the bandh.

"This may be the first time in history of India`s politics that almost all political parties will participate in the Bharat bandh," NDA working chairperson L K Advani said after a meeting of the leaders.

He gave credit to NDA convenor and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav for bringing together even the non-NDA political parties for the one-day strike.

The BJP also decided to send its senior leaders out to various state capitals to lead demonstrations and protest marches. Party president Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh will lead the protest in New Delhi.

The Left parties have also given a separate call for a `Bharat bandh` tomorrow.

Most of the opposition parties minus the RJD, BSP, LJP and RLD are participating in the bandh.

The participating parties are BJP, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, JD-U, CPI-M, CPI, Forward Block, RSP, AIADMK, PMK, MDMK TDP, BJD, JD(S), AGP, Akali Dal and INLD.

The Petroleum Ministry meanwhile, on Sunday released advertisements in newspapers to send a message that the "Bharat bandh" is not a solution. "Even after the price increase, the government will bear a financial burden of approximately Rs 53,000 crore during 2010-11," it said.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjeev Dayal said all security measures have been taken to ensure no untoward incident takes place.

"Anyone who takes law into their hands and attempts to paralyse the city shall be dealt with strictly," warned Dayal.

As the suburban trains are likely to be targeted by protestors supporting bandh, adequate number of Railway policemen would be deployed at stations for smooth functioning of service, police said.

The government last month raised prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene by Rs 3.50, Rs 2 and Rs 3 a litre, respectively, and increased the rate of cooking gas by Rs 35 a cylinder. The decision was taken by an Empowered Group of Ministers headed by Mukherjee.

The government on June 25 decided to give freedom to the oil marketing companies to fix prices of petrol. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a few days later indicated that diesel prices could also be freed in due course. Under the now extanct system, government determined prices of petroleum goods.

The hike in prices of petroleum goods is likely to have a cascading effect on inflation, which is ruling high. Wholesale prices-based inflation crossed double digits (10.16 percent provisionally) in May, but as per final figures, the rate of price rise has been 11 percent or more since February. Food inflation eased to 12.92 percent in the third week of June from above 16 percent.

With Agency inputs