Moving mostly in luxury air-conditioned vehicles, the BJP legislators in Chhattisgarh on Monday were seen sweating as they pedaled 13 km on bicycles to reach the state Assembly, to protest against the price rise.
Attempting to show up the alleged failure of Congress-led Centre to control inflation, the party MLAs including 11 ministers led by Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh (58) covered the distance in nearly 45 minutes on bicycles.
Even as most of the members appeared motivated enough to be part of the protest move, the saffron leaders were much relieved reaching the House before the scheduled Question Hour began at 11 am. Many did not exactly remember when they rode on cycles last to travel such long distance. “Blame it on the political compulsion”, quipped a senior BJP legislator, requesting anonymity.
The police force and traffic cops were deployed in large numbers all along the way for security reasons.
Each bicycle was decorated with slogans against the rising inflation. Though the party activists set up few stopovers on the way to offer juices and refreshments but it emerged a non-stop cycling for many to reach the destination. The party purchased fifty new cycles for their occasion. Not willing to take any chances team of doctors and ambulance accompanied them on their way.
The opposition Congress Party dubbed the occasion as BJP’s political stunt to divert the attention of masses from the alleged rampant corruption in the state. “If the government is really serious to curb inflation why they are reluctant to take actions against hoarders and traders stockpiling essential commodities”, the state Congress chief Dhanendra Sahu told Hindustan Times. He criticised the government for raising VAT from January this year and not carrying out frequent raids.
Senior BJP minister Brijmohan Agrawal called the party’s initiative successful. “In politics the protests are symbolic and is aimed to convey message to the people that we are equally concern with the distress faced by common man owing to soaring prices”, said the BJP minister.
The Chhattisgarh government will present its annual budget on February 22 during the ongoing session.