Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal thanked the people of the state, particularly traders, shopkeepers, industrialists and other businessmen, besides leaders and workers of the SAD-BJP combine, for making Bharat bandh "a huge success" across the
Patiala mayor Jaspal Pardhan and SAD workers holding an LPG cyclinder and shouting slogans against the UPA government on Thursday. Bharat Bhushan/HT
The call for Bharat Bandh was given by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), of which the SAD is also a constituent, to mount pressure on the Congress-led UPA government to immediately roll back the diesel hike, revise the cap on LPG cylinders for domestic use and revoke the decision of allowing FDI in the retail sector.
In a press statement, the SAD said Badal also appreciated the people for expressing solidarity with the NDA to vent their ire against the steepest ever hike in diesel prices, which had pushed Punjab's agrarian economy into a deep crisis and posed an imminent threat of further escalation in the prices of essential commodities on account of an increase in transportation cost.
Badal said the countrywide bandh was also reflective of people's mood against the "irrational" decision of the UPA to allow FDI in retail sector, which would adversely hit small shopkeepers and traders.
SAD spokesman Dr Daljit Singh Cheema claimed the bandh was complete and peaceful. He said senior SAD-BJP leaders, party MLAs, MPs and other office-bearers of both the parties, accompanied by leaders of many trade and social organisations, submitted a detailed memorandum to the President through deputy commissioners at all district headquarters of the state.
SAD, BJP facing crisis of ideology: Cong
The Punjab Congress on Thursday criticised the ruling Akali-BJP alliance for forcing an "unnecessary bandh on unwilling people of the state".
"It only betrayed the crisis of ideology both the Akalis and the BJP are confronted with," Punjab Congress general secretary Arvind Khanna said, reacting to the Bharat bandh in Punjab.
The Congress general secretary maintained that it was sheer political opportunism on part of both the Akalis as well as the BJP to oppose foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail when everybody knew that both the parties were themselves in favour of it. "Just because the Congress-led UPA government has initiated the move, they are opposing it now," he observed.