The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India (RPI) alliance on Tuesday has appealed to other political parties including MNS and even NCP, who are against the petrol hike to join them in the ‘Bharat Bandh’ that they have appealed for on May 31.
The bandh is being observed following the petrol price hike of Rs. 7.50 per litre, which has indirectly hit 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. Right now the NCP is playing a double game-it is criticizing the hike but now willing to quit from 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.
However MNS chief Raj Thackeray immediately distanced himself from the bandh saying his party will not participate. “Holding a bandh has become a old weapon for protest and does not work anymore. It is better if there is some thought given into finding solutions to go back on the hike,” Thackeray said.
Senior Sena leader and MLA Subhash Desai when asked if the bandh will be forced onto people in the usual ‘Sena style’ where public transport like trains and buses are affected, he said that the bandh should be observed voluntarily by people. “ 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 that the price of essential commodities like wheat, milk, sugar and oil has grown over 150 % from 2004. Also the rate of petrol in Mumbai, which is
Rs. 78.57 per litre way high compared to Pakistan, which is at Rs 59 per litre and Sri Lanka, which is at Rs. 61.70 per litre.
Pointing to the price rise, Mungantiwar took a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee saying they 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 added that the state government could at least cut down the taxes it charges on petrol, which will give people some relief.