Despite Violence, Congress Declares Bharat Bandh A 'Grand Success'

| September 11 , 2018 , 07:58 IST

The Congress-led Bharat Bandh protest on Monday against rising fuel prices, was supported by nearly 21 other political parties, and resulted in violence in the states of Odisha, Gujarat and Bihar among others, however, the Congress has termed it a 'Grand success'.

Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who had announced the call for Bharat Bandh last week, on Monday said, "protest was a big success and in a way historic as the Congress has never given a call for 'bharat bandh' in last many years. Congress workers and opposition parties held protests across the country to seek reduction in excise duties on petrol and diesel and bring these products under the ambit of GST."`                

The bandh also witnessed an example of Opposition unity, with the coming together of 21 Opposition parties, including former PM HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular), Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM(S), Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), M K Stalin's DMK and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) among others.

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party abstained from the bandh, although they added their support to the cause.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who had been on a trip to Kailash Mansoravar, returned on Monday to lead the Bharat bandh protest from Rajghat to Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi. Gandhi condemned Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech, without directly mentioning the fuel price hikes.

"Narendra Modi used to say that nothing has happened in 70 years and we will do that in four years. It is true, what he has done in four years has not happened in 70 years. Wherever you see, one Indian is fighting another. Wherever you go, they divide people -- one religion with another, one caste with another and one state pitted against the other," he said.

"What the country wants to hear, what the youths want to hear, PM Narendra Modi does not talk about it. Don't know which world he is in, he keeps giving speeches... The country is fed up of seeing him," Rahul Gandhi said.

ALSO READ: Congress-Led Bharat Bandh Today Over Rising Petrol And Diesel Prices, 21 Parties In Support

Meanwhile, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the fuel prices were out of their hands.

"Diesel, petrol price rise is out of our hands because oil producing countries have limited production... We're not saying we can't do anything. The BJP strongly believes that despite some momentary difficulties, the people of India do not support this protest," Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The recurring hike in fuel prices has been attributed to falling rupee value, and higher crude oil import prices, due to the US's sanctions on Iran, India's second largest oil supplier.