In a rare show of unity, Communist and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders came together in New Delhi Thursday to denounce the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail trade.
At a protest rally organised by traders in the heart of the capital, BJP and Communist veterans lashed out at the government for what they said was a policy that would ruin India's mammoth retail sector.
"The tragedy is that our prime minister (Manmohan Singh) has begun to worship the US," Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said to loud cheers.
"This is only the beginning, our struggle will continue till the decision is reversed," added BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Among others who gathered at the Jantar Mantar protest venue were BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi, Communist Party of India's AB Bardhan and Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav.
Nearby, supporters of eight political parties including the Samajwadi Party and the Left organised a separate protest on the same issue.
Thursday's nationwide protest is also against the decision to raise diesel prices by Rs. 5 a litre and cap to six the number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders each family can get in a year.
Congress leader and Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni expressed her unhappiness with the 'bandh'. She was particularly critical of the Trinamool Congress.
"I am surprised an alliance partner would (protest) because they are privy to all decisions," she said.
"It is a very difficult decision for any government to take. We have tried to assure everybody that there is no other way to keep the economy on track," she added.
The Trinamool has said its ministers will quit the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday in protest against the economic steps which the government says are a must to kickstart a sagging economy.