Making evident her displeasure with the UPA government over the steep hike in petrol price, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit the streets here on Saturday.
Thousands of Trinamool supporters and the entire brass of the party sweated it out with Ms. Banerjee, as she walked through a five-km stretch in the rally, which began in the south of the city and ended on a thoroughfare near her home.
Significantly, Ms. Banerjee remained silent through her walk, which lasted nearly 90 minutes. Waving her hands and greeting the crowd with a ‘namaskar', Ms. Banerjee in the end thanked the people for participating in the protest, even as the crowd waved party flags and placards demanding a rollback of the hike.
On Wednesday, within hours of the fuel price hike announcement, Ms. Banerjee lashed out at the Centre but said her party wanted stability as toppling the UPA government would cause a further setback at a time when “economic mismanagement” was creating serious problems for the country.
Ms. Banerjee taking to the streets is being interpreted as a move to mount pressure on the ally, the Congress, while sending a message to the people that the Trinamool was not a party to such decisions and that it shared their concerns over price spiral.
Trinamool leaders described the rally as a “fitting reply” to the Centre, which had not consulted Ms. Banerjee before increasing the petrol price.
“The UPA government will have to roll back the hike. Mamata Banerjee raised her objections to the decision earlier and now she led a protest rally on the issue,” senior leader Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay told the gathering.
Asked why the party lodged its protest despite being part of the UPA government, he said the Trinamool had a right to register its protest if decisions were taken without consultations.