As part of its country-wide 'jail bharo' campaign against fuel price hike, hundreds of BJP leaders and workers today courted arrest in Punjab and Haryana. Party sources claimed that nearly 85,000 BJP activists - 50,000 in Punjab and the rest in Haryana - courted arrest. Earlier, BJP activists in the two states staged demonstrations at district headquarters.
Party's national vice-president and former Union minister Shanta Kumar courted arrest at Jalandhar along with party's Punjab spokesman Manoranjan Kalia, 19 municipal councilors and several party workers, a BJP spokesman said in Chandigarh.
BJP leaders and MPs Balbir Punj and Navjot Singh Sidhu courted arrest along with Amritsar district president Anand Sharma, 24 municipal councillors, Yuva Morcha state president Rajesh Honey and a number of workers at Amritsar.
BJP state chief Ashwani Sharma was arrested at Pathankot.
Before handing himself over to police, Shanta Kumar rubbished the Centre's claim that fuel price hike was due to rise in international crude oil prices.
At Amritsar, Balbir Punj said after petrol, the Centre is planning to increase prices of diesel, LPG and kerosene.
Ashwani Sharma said, "...the (petrol price) burden can be reduced by suitably adjusting import duty and excise duty."
Official sources said the protest was peaceful and all those who courted arrest were later released.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a major ally of BJP in Punjab, however, did not participate in the protest. "It's their (BJP's) own programme and SAD is not participating," SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said.