Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Mahila Morcha on Friday took out a massive protest rally against the Union government’s cap on the number of subsidised cylinders in Bangalore.

The protesters, who marched from Town Hall to Freedom Park carrying posters of cylinders, shouted slogans against the Union government and demanded that the cap be withdrawn.

Addressing the protesters, Nirmala Sitaram, national spokesperson for the BJP, condemned the Centre’s decision and said: “When industrialist and Congress MP Naveen Jindal can receive 369 refills of LPG cylinders in a single year, why is the common man being deprived of adequate number of refills? According to the oil companies’ transparency portal, Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s official residence consumed over 170 subsidised LPG cylinders in a year. While Union Minister Jaipal Reddy’s residence consumed 26 cylinders, another Union Minister, Salman Khurshid and his wife used 62 cylinders (under two connections). When such is the situation, how can the government expect the common people to manage with just six cylinders?” she said.

BJP Mahila Morcha’s city president Mamata Uday said the six-cylinder cap is bound to hit the middle class. The protest was organised in support of the nationwide strike conducted by BJP’s National Mahila Morcha. State BJP Mahila Morcha president Reena Prakash and Jayanagar MLA B.N. Vijaykumar also spoke.

Protest against FDI

Meanwhile, protesting against the Union government’s decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, activists, under the banner of the All India Pragati, marched from the Town Hall to the Raj Bhavan.

Most of them were small and petty traders from the markets around S.J.P. Road and Kalasipalya.

Apprehending that entry of large corporations such as Walmart would stifle their livelihood options, the agitators demanded a complete withdrawal of the Central government’s policy.

In a memorandum submitted to the Governor’s office, they argued that small traders could hardly hope to compete with large corporations which have millions of dollars in investments.

They said that despite their meagre investments, they are able to run sustainable businesses. “But the entry of mammoth corporations will destroy our businesses,” they said in the memorandum.

Quoting from newspaper articles, they said the issue concerns 40 million petty and small traders in the country, who form four per cent of the population.

Their prime demands included a national policy on small and micro trading, and the setting up of a national commission to study the social, economic and environmental impact of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail.