Protesters had a common message: revoke FDI in retail, lift cap on LPG cylinders and withdraw diesel price hike
Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail, increase in the price of essential commodities, especially diesel, and the cap on the number of subsidised liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders… these were ample reasons for various organisations and political parties to participate in the Bharath bandh on Thursday.
Mysore Bank Circle was a hotspot for protests. Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, the Kannada Rakshana Vedike, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, and political parties such as the Janata Dal (Secular), the Janata Dal (United), the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) staged protests there and raised slogans against the UPA government. With most vehicles off the roads, these protests fortunately did not affect traffic in the city. The protesters set fire to a 10-headed effigy of the UPA government.
Several prominent leaders of the BJP, including the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and party national general secretary Ananth Kumar were detained when they tried to march towards the Raj Bhavan to lay siege to it after staging a dharna near Mysore Bank Circle. The leaders were taken in 12 buses to Ashoknagar police station and later released.
The other leaders who were detained and released included Bangalore Central MP P.C. Mohan, MLAs B.N. Vijaykumar, Hemachandra Sagar and C.N. Ashwathnarayan and MLCs Ashwathnarayana and Tara.
Earlier, addressing the protesters, Mr. Yeddyurappa expressed concern that the impact of hike in prices of diesel and limiting the supply of domestic LPG to six per family a year would be severe on the people of the State as they were already reeling under serious drought.
Accusing the UPA of being biased against Karnataka, he said the Centre’s stand on the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu was indicative of this bias.
Earlier in the day, BJP protesters, led by Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy, blocked National Highway 7 for about an hour’s time.
This affected vehicular movement coming into the city and out. Finally, the police detained nearly 150 protesters, including the MLA. Members from the Social Democratic Party of India and Praja Pragati Ranga took out a procession from Town Hall. Raising slogans against the UPA government, the protesters staged a demonstration near the Mahatma Gandhi statue on Racecourse Road.
All these organisations and political parties demanded that the hike in diesel price, FDI in retail sector and cap on the number of subsidised LPG cylinders be revoked.
Meanwhile, J D (S) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday termed the bandh “state sponsored”.
Reacting to the success of the bandh, he said the BJP had no moral right to protest as sales tax on petro products in Karnataka is one of the highest in the country. Unlike Goa, West Bengal, Rajasthan or Kerala, Karnataka had not reduced local taxes.
He sought to know, whether the BJP government was prepared to raise the number of subsidised cylinders from the proposed six to nine for each household in a year on the lines of the decision taken in Congress-ruled States. .