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Opposition gears up for nationwide shutdown
Published on 4 Jul. 2010 12:04 AM IST
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Normal life is expected to be hit in parts of India Monday as the divided opposition joins hands to enforce a nationwide shutdown to protest against rising prices and the fuel price hike.
For the first time in a long time, while still remaining ideologically poles apart, the Left and Right are separately backing the day-long strike seeking a rollback of the fuel prices.
And with the Congress-led government making it clear that it will not reverse its decision, the opposition is determined to prove its strength on the streets.
“It is for the first time after the JP movement that all non-Congress parties are coming together on a specific issue,” Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) convenor Sharad Yadav told IANS. Predicting that the Monday shutdown would be a “historic event”, Yadav called upon the young, especially students, to take to the streets that day.
“The unity among the opposition parties in organising the Bharat Bandh is unprecedented. The BJP and others have risen above party considerations to take up the burning issue of soaring prices of essential commodities,” BJP president Nitin Gadkari told IANS. Since the dawn-to-dusk work stoppage is backed by the entire opposition, it is widely expected to affect life across the country, in most areas of the economy.
Already truck owners have extended their “moral support” to the shutdown.
“We are supporting the Bharat Bandh. We are heavily hit because of the diesel price hike, to the tune of Rs.1,000 for national permit trucks and Rs.500 for vehicles running locally,” All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) chief G.R. Shanmugappa told IANS over phone from Bangalore.
The central government last week ended government curbs on petroleum pricing and hiked the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. The prices of diesel went up by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene by Rs.3 a litre, cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder and petrol by Rs.3.50 a litre.
Shutdown uncalled for: Cong
The Congress has termed the opposition-backed July 5 nationwide shutdown against price rise as “uncalled for” as it will cause hardship to people and said that the protesters could have raised their issues in parliament.
“There is no need of Bharat Bandh (nationwide shutdown). It will cause hardship to people all over the country. Parliament session is beginning July 26. They (opposition parties) can raise their issues in parliament,” Congress spokesman Mohan Prakash told IANS.
Asked about the opposition charge that the Congress-led UPA government has failed to check price rise, Prakash said the blame lies with the opposition parties, particularly the BJP, for the prices not coming down appreciably.
“Whenever prices start coming down, the Opposition, mainly the BJP, starts making noise on price rise. This creates a psyche which is taken advantage of by profiteers,” Prakash said.

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