Opposition joins hands over Bharat Bandh
Most of the opposition parties on Sunday announced their support to the Bharat Bandh called by the Congress and Left Front to protest against the rising fuel prices and have a showdown with the Modi government that has evaded a direct explanation to the non-stop rise in fuel prices.
While parties like the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), DMK, Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) backed the shutdown, the Left has also declared a nationwide hartal.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) ruling in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana respectively, are also not supporting the call.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has said it supports the issues raised by parties that have called for a nationwide shutdown, but it is against strikes since these lead to loss of working hours.
"We support the issues raised by them. But at the same time, we do not want to waste another working day, especially when our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to build a new Bengal," TMC Secretary General Partha Chatterjee has said.
The Congress wants petrol and diesel to be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which would decrease the price "by Rs 15-18 per liter". It also wants an immediate reduction in central excise duty and "excessive VAT" in states.
Congress leader Ajay Maken on Sunday said that close to "20 political parties" will take part in the protest.
Left Front Chairman Biman Bose called for a 12-hour strike from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday across West Bengal in support of the all India "protest hartal" and urged people in the state to make it a grand success.
Karnataka's ruling JD-S announced it will support the day-long nationwide protest.
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda will join other opposition leaders at a protest rally and meeting in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, state governments across the country braced for the Bandh with senior officials reviewing the security measures and many states deciding to keep schools shut on Monday.
The BJP's Tripura government has ordered all its employees to attend office on Monday and warned that strict action will be taken against absentees.
"We have been holding protests across the state for the last three days to make the people aware of the steep price rise of the petroleum products," said BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra.
The Odisha government has declared that schools will remain closed on Monday to ensure the safety of the students.
Pledging support to the Bandh, DMK leader M.K. Stalin said the Modi government is not doing anything to halt the rupee's slide against the dollar or to control the fuel prices, which appear to be marching towards Rs 100 per liter.