Bharat bandh and energy policy
There has been a mixed response so far to the Bharat bandh called by the BJP and the Left today to protest last week’s hike in petrol prices.
There have been reports of some BEST buses in Mumbai being stoned, buses being set on fire and being stoned in Karnataka and trains have been stopped in UP’s Allahabad, and places in Odisha and Jharkhand. In East Delhi, BJP workers have blocked an arterial road that connects Ghaziabad to Delhi, causing much inconvenience to office-goers at a time when the temperature is soaring uncomfortably high.
TV reports from Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Patna, Allahabad and Varanasi said that rail routes were blocked to stop trains and shops closed following the protest.
According to Times Now, rail traffic was hit as Samajwadi Party and JD (U) workers blocked rail routes in Allahabad and Patna. The Saket Express and Ganga Gomti Express were stopped in Allahabad.
In Delhi, auto rickshaw unions have also joined the bandh with 55,000 autos and 15,000 taxis expected to stay off the road. BJP workers have ‘promised’ to block traffic and stage demonstrations at several places. This is expected to result in major traffic jams in Delhi.
The Hindu added:
The nationwide bandh called by the NDA and Left parties to protest the petrol price hike on Thursday evoked a mixed response amid incidents of stone pelting, arson and road blockades in Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
In the national capital, the bandh did not evoke much response though party supporters blocked traffic in some places.
Small shops were seen open in many areas in the morning while commuters complained that there were less autos on roads as a number of auto and taxi unions have joined the protest.
In the financial capital, Mumbai, bandh supporters pelted stones at buses in two suburban areas of the city. Elsewhere in Maharashtra, activists pelted stones at 13 buses in Pune, 10 in Nagpur and Thane districts and stopped some buses by blocking roads in Satara district
Local trains and buses were plying as usual in most parts of Mumbai.
The bandh disrupted normal life in parts of BJP-ruled Karnataka where bandh supporters set on fire three buses and stoned about a dozen others forcing authorities to withdraw bus services in the city. Public transport was hit and shops and business establishments remained shut in several parts of Karnataka.
There was no impact of the bandh in Kerala and a lukewarm response to the stir in Tamil Nadu.
In spite of the petrol price hike, the rupee continued to fall. Strengthening the rupee will require reducing the debt burden of the government, a significant part of which is due to a crisis in energy production. It seems that the cabinet is responsive to long-term needs, such as ensuring future oil supply, as the prime minister’s trip to Burma and the moves in the South China Sea demonstrate. However, the government is completely clueless on managing public opinion. Even to a political amateur like you and me it is clear that raising the price of petrol 15 times by 50 paise is easier to push down people’s throats than a one-time raise of Rs. 7.