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Protests over hike in fuel price, opposition parties blame Cong; Tripura shutdown today
Published on 27 Jun. 2010 12:31 AM IST
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Life was hit in several states, especially Left-ruled West Bengal and Kerala, Saturday as opposition parties held protests against the fuel price hike and the government’s “indifference” to the sufferings of the common man.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties separately staged demonstrations in the national capital and in different states against the government’s decision Friday to increase the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas.
Normal life was badly hit in the Left-ruled states of West Bengal and Kerala as most public transport went off the roads as part of the protests.
Buses, taxis, and autorickshaws kept off the roads and ferry services on rivers did not ply in West Bengal following a public transport strike called by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in West Bengal against the fuel price hike.
Commuters were greatly inconvenienced as they either had to walk for hours or had to shell out astronomical sums to board the handful of buses and taxis that appeared on the roads. There were reports of the strike supporters using strong-arm tactics to force people out of taxis, but there were no major untoward incidents.
A shutdown called by the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala saw most shops and offices closed and public transport off the roads.
Commuters had a tough time getting transport from railway stations and bus stops and many complained about the frequent shutdowns in the state.
Meanwhile, the ruling Left Front in Tripura Saturday called for a 12-hour shutdown in the state Monday to protest against the hike in fuel prices.
In the national capital, senior BJP leader V.K. Malhotra and the party’s Delhi unit chief Vijender Gupta led the protest at the busy ITO junction.
Addressing protesting party workers after blocking traffic, Gupta said the Congress-led central government was not concerned about the sufferings of the common man.
“Fuel hike is a result of the corrupt practices of the Congress-led government,” Gupta said, alleging that the government was hand-in-gloves with big corporates.
The Left parties organised a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in Delhi demanding a roll-back of the fuel price hike. In Uttar Pradesh, top BJP leaders were detained in Lucknow for staging a demonstration against the hike in fuel prices.
Cong justifies hike
Under attack from opposition and key UPA ally Trinamool Congress for the move to hike petro products, Congress today said the government must have been “constrained” to take the decision.
Party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters “we believe that government must have been constrained to take this decision and will ensure that the impact is cushioned to the maximum possible to the disadvantaged section.”
Congress general secretary Janaradan Dwivedi said, “There must have been certain compulsions. No government wants to be unpopular.” He did not elaborate on the compulsions that forced the government to increase the prices.

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