A CPI minister got a taste of his own medicine on Saturday as he landed in bandh-hit Kerala only to be ‘stranded’ at the Kochi airport for eight hours.
State Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran landed at 10.30 am, unaware of the sudden strike call by the ruling LDF to protest the fuel price hike.
As rail, road and air passengers were left to fend for themselves, the minister’s official car and escort vehicles were conspicuously parked in the VIP area since morning. An embarrassed Rajendran tried to dodge mediapersons, who were waiting for a shot of the minister speeding off.
After a hide-and-seek session, Rajendran decided to stay at the airport VIP lounge till the bandh ended (6 pm).
Left ministers usually skip their vehicles and walk to their offices on bandh days to express solidarity with their comrades.
A government official ruled out an immediate rollback of fuel prices. The Congress defended the move. “There must have been certain compulsions. No government wants to become unpopular,” Congress media chief Janardan Dwivedi said.
The BJP said the UPA government had “betrayed” the people and the party would take up the issue in the next Parliament session. “Till that time (monsoon session), we will fight for rollback of fuel prices on the streets,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
The party kicked off nationwide protests on Saturday. It also welcomed the JD(U)’s call for a Bharat Bandh.
A strike against fuel hike called by CPM-backed trade union CITU in Kolkata kept public transport off the roads on Saturday. The Left has called a bandh in Tripura on Monday.