The Left and the Right were on the same page on Thursday with its leaders sharing stage to protest the United Progressive Alliance government's decision to allow FDI in retail and hike in diesel price with both alleging that these were taken to 'please' United States President Barack Obama and other western nations.
While Left leaders A B Bardhan and Sitaram Yechury shared the stage with BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi and Nitin Gadkari at a protest organised by traders, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Telugu Desam Party President N Chandrababu Naidu kept away from it but appeared at a Left protest rally and courted arrest along with others.
Yadav attacked the Government for its 'anti-poor' policies and claimed farmers were the "worst-affected lot" due to hike in diesel price.
Yadav, Naidu, Communist Partuy of India-Maxist General Secretary Prakash Karat, former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, Bardhan, Communist Party of India Member of Parliament D Raja and other leaders courted arrest at the Parliament Street police station but were released later.
Karat demanded that the Government withdraw all its decisions and sought Yadav's support in 'keeping alive' this movement both inside and outside Parliament. Yards away, Bardhan, Yechury, Joshi, Gadkari and Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav tore into the government's economic policies calling them 'anti-people and anti-national' while attacking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for being hell-bent on 'pleasing his friend' Obama.
Bardhan said ideologies of Left and the BJP might be different, but they 'are one' when it came to fighting for the people and even complimented Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee for deciding to pull out her ministers from the Union Cabinet.
While Bardhan said Singh was trying to 'please' Obama, Joshi was more vocal in his criticism when he alleged that the Congress was trying to make traders and people 'slaves' of US and other western countries.
Gadkari termed as 'blatant lie' the government's assertion that the decision to allow FDI will bring in more jobs, alleging that Chinese companies will have a 'backdoor entry' through Walmart and other brands who mostly sell Chinese products.
The BJP President alleged that the CAG has said that there has been a corruption of Rs 5 lakh crore during the UPA regime which, he said, could have been spent on empowering poor.
"This is just a beginning. We are all one in this and we are not fighting for us, we are fighting for the people of this country," he said.
Bardhan said brands like Walmart and Carrefour would 'squander' the wealth of the country and traders, while Yechury alleged that the prime minister Singh does not set out on any yatra without 'performing puja' to Obama.
JD-U's Sharad Yadav asked the Congress to remove Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Finance Minister P Chidambaram if it has to get back to people.
"I am telling Sonia Gandhi that these decisions will affect her party badly in elections. Remove Chidambaram and Montek Singh. Only then you will understand the miseries of the people," he said.
Karat also said the Government's decision would just benefit companies like Walmart and that it would adversely affect traders in the country.
"We will tour the entire nation and listen to people's grievances and decide our strategy," Yadav said addressing the protesters.
Naidu said the government's policies are 'wrong' and the Congress has to understand this. "All these are anti-people decisions and they need to be withdrawn," he added.
A nation-wide bandh has been called by NDA, Left parties and SP against the Centre's decision on FDI in retail, diesel price rise and cap on LPG cylinders.