Trains were halted briefly and petrol pumps were forced shut in some parts of Mumbai on Monday as public vehicles, including buses, autorickshaws and taxis, plied normally in the financial capital amid the shutdown call by the Congress-led opposition against the steep rise in fuel prices.
The suburban trains were running normally with some delays with no fall in the usual crowds on working days. However, local trains at Andheri station were suspended after hundreds of Congress workers led by former chief minister Ashok Chavan and senior leader Sanjay Nirupam blocked platform number three and four at around 9.43am.
Chavan, Nirupam and former minister Suresh Shetty participated in the protest at Andheri after travelling in a Borivali bound local train. Chavan said almost all opposition parties have supported their call as it was to highlight the cause of the common man.
The bus services by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport or BEST, autorickshaws and taxis remained unaffected and the residents of Mumbai were seen travelling to their workplaces during morning hours.
The buses of BEST undertakings were also reported to be running on the roads. Barring a couple of stone pelting incidents, including that at Pratiksha Nagar depot and Vashi Naka, no untoward incidents were reported elsewhere in the city. BEST spokesperson Hanumant Gophane said no passengers were hurt in the stone pelting.
Taxi and autorickshaw drivers’ unions said their members are not participating in the Bharat Bandh and no hindrance was reported in plying the vehicles. Some commuters, however, said there were a lesser number of app-based cabs on the roads as compared to normal days. Service providers Ola and Uber could not be reached for their comment.
Petrol pump operators said workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and other political parties forced them to shut down briefly at Chembur, Sahar and other places in Mumbai.
The Congress leaders took to streets to ensure the shutdown was effective on Monday morning after about ten smaller parties supported its call in the state. The Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party, Republican Party of India’s Jogendra Kawade faction, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Peasants and Workers Party have announced they will actively support the shutdown call. The Shiv Sena is not supporting the call.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, known for its aggressive tactics of protests brought a donkey to a petrol pump in Chembur to protest the rising fuel prices. The party workers were arrested by the police. NCP leaders, including its vice-president and spokesperson Nawab Malik and women’s wing chief Chitra Wagh, led the protest at Govandi and Byculla respectively.
The Congress and NCP have announced to jointly stage the protest in rest of Maharashtra to garner support on the issue. The MNS will join the two major opposition parties in Nashik at the statue of BR Ambedkar and the joint protest in Aurangabad will be held at Kranti Chowk. In Jalgaon and Yavatmal all the opposition parties have announced to come together to stage a protest.
Congress on Sunday claimed the support of 21 political parties and a number of chambers of commerce and traders’ associations for the bandh against the BJP government’s failure to take action to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel and reduce hardships to the common man.
Protesters at a railway station in Mumbai.
(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)
The BJP has accused Congress of shedding “crocodile tears” over rising fuel prices, saying the opposition party gave protection to the “price rise mafia” when it was in power and is now “exploiting” the masses.
A host of major opposition parties — the Left, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and DMK — have supported the bandh and are expected to observe it in several states.
The Left parties — the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation, RSP and Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUC) — have given a separate call for bandh on the same day over the hike in fuel prices, the problem of farmers and unemployment issues.
The Congress has demanded that petrol and diesel should be brought under GST, by which oil prices could drop by about Rs 15 to Rs 18. Petrol and diesel prices set new records Sunday when petrol price was raised by 12 paise a litre and diesel by 10 paise per litre.
First Published: Sep 10, 2018 10:12 IST