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Right and Left unite for Bharat Bandh TODAY

Last updated on: May 31, 2012 08:48 IST

Right and Left unite for Bharat Bandh TODAY

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The unprecedented hike in petrol prices has helped the Left and the Right to make common cause on Thursday for a nationwide protest, described by the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies as Bharat Bandh and by Left as All India Protest Day.

This is the second time that the BJP, Left and other non-Congress parties will be coordinating their agitations since the last Lok Sabha elections to give the impression of a wider Opposition unity on issues concerning people.

A similar agitation against petrol price hike had happened on July 5, 2010. Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, which is supporting the United Progressive Alliance goverment from outside, has also given the bandh call on Thursday so has Biju Janata Dal in Odisha.

Amid indications that the Opposition has also attempted to rope in some UPA allies, which have strongly protested the hike, BJP President Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday asked parties such as the Dravida Munettra Kazhagam - which has opposed the petrol price hike- to join the bandh on Thursday.

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Image: An activist from Socialist Unity Centre of India holds a placard as she shouts slogans during a protest against the hike in fuel prices, in Kolkata
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters

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"The UPA government has increased petrol prices on 18 to 19 occasions. Now even the Rupee has fallen further. The situation is deteriorating in such a manner that we have reached the stage where we may have to pledge our gold again. We would like all parties, opposed to the petrol hike, to join our protest," Gadkari told reporters.

The DMK had threatened that it may think of withdrawing support to the Congress-led UPA government due to this petrol hike. However, later DMK Chief K Karunanidhi clarified that the party will oppose the move while staying within UPA.

NDA convener Sharad Yadav said the Opposition parties do not believe the statement of the government that it will not increase diesel and LPG prices.

"They are saying it because they are under pressure from the Opposition now. Their argument that the government has no role in petrol price hike is eyewash. People's anger on the issue will be visible during the Bharat Bandh on Thursday.

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Image: BJP President Nitin Gadkari with L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley in Mumbai
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
Tags: UPA , DMK , NDA , LPG , Sharad Yadav

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Right and Left unite for Bharat Bandh TODAY

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The Opposition is united on the issue," Yadav said. Interestingly even as Mulayam Singh Yadav had attended the UPA's function to release its annual performance report card on May 22, his party is now organising a state bandh on May 31 that coincides with the agitation plan of the Opposition.

In a symbolic day-long protest against petrol hike, former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi and his partymen on Wednesday also launched a campaign on foot in support of his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantric) candidate for the June 12 Hatia Assembly bye-election. The Congress is in alliance with JVM-P in Jharkhand.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had already hit the street protesting the hike in petrol price, on Wednesday appealed to the people to maintain normalcy during the National Democratic Alliance-called 12-hour bandh tomorrow over the issue.

"The state government is determined to maintain normalcy," Banerjee said urging the people to go to their places of work as usual.

Secretariat sources said the state administration had appealed to the people not to fall a prey to any attempt to disturb communal amity.

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Image: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee


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The chief minister has already alerted her party colleagues in the districts to keep a vigil in respective areas so that communal harmony was maintained. She asked them not to enter into any confrontation but keep a "watchful eye", party sources said.

Banerjee, who has vowed to revive the work culture which she alleges has been destroyed during 34 years of Left Front rule, had said "destructive bandhs and blockades" could not solve any problem.

Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place across Karnataka in the wake of Bharat Bandh call given by opposition parties against the petrol price hike, police said on Wednesday.

"Security has been beefed up across the state to prevent any untoward situation on Thursday", Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Bipin Gopalakrishna told PTI.

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Image: A worker fills a car with petrol next to a price tag board installed at a fuel station in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters

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He said Karnataka State Reserve Police would be deployed across various districts to ensure peace. In the IT capital of Bengaluru, 24-hour patrolling and picketing would be on at all important locations and areas housing IT majors, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Sunil Kumar said.

He said 35 units of striking forces would be deployed to ensure law and order in the city. Schools and colleges in all districts have declared a holiday on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh claimed that Congress workers under the garb of saffron activists may create "disturbance" during the day-long nationwide bandh tomorrow on the issue of steep hike in petrol prices.

"We have received credible information that some Congressmen under the garb of VIshwa Hindu parishad and Bajrang Dal workers may create disturbance in major cities of the state to defame the ruling party," the state unit BJP president Prabhat Jha told reporters.


Image: Activists from Shiv Sena carry a motorcycle as they shout slogans during a protest against the price hike in petrol, in Jammu
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

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