The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India (RPI) alliance on Tuesday has appealed to other political parties including the MNS and even the NCP, to join them in the ‘Bharat Bandh’ they have called for on May 31.
The bandh has been called to protest against the petrol price hike of Rs7.50 per litre, which has indirectly hit the prices of essential commodities.
“All political parties are invited to participate, including the MNS. However, NCP should first step down from the government and then join us. The NCP is playing a double game — it is criticising the hike but unwilling to quit the government,” BJP state president Sudhir Mungantiwar said while talking to the media along with senior Sena leader Subhash Desai and RPI leader Arjun Dangle.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray immediately distanced himself from the bandh saying his party would not participate. “Holding a bandh has become an old weapon. It is better if some thought is put into finding solutions,” Thackeray said.
Asked if transport services would be affected by the bandh, senior Sena leader and MLA Subhash Desai, said the bandh should be observed voluntarily. “Students who have exams will not be disturbed by the bandh. We have also asked our workers to support old people and patients going to hospitals. Otherwise we will be observing the bandh in Sena style,” he said.
The trio pointed out that the price of essential commodities such as wheat, milk, sugar and oil has grown over 150% from 2004. Also, the rate of petrol in Mumbai, which is Rs78.57 per litre is much higher than the rates in Pakistan (Rs59 per litre) and Sri Lanka (Rs61.70 per litre).
Pointing to the price rise, Mungantiwar said that PM Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee have tricked the people who trusted them. “The UPA has made hollow claims by saying that ‘inflation would be controlled in six months’ before elections,” he said. Desai said that the state could cut down on taxes it charges on petrol.