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BJP stages statewide protests over inflated power bills in Maharashtra

Bharatiya Janata Party workers burn copies of electricity bills during a protest over inflated electricity bills, at Kandivali in Mumbai on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Aadesh Choudhari

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday staged a Statewide agitation against allegedly inflated power bills and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi’s failure to provide relief to consumers.

In several districts across Maharashtra, BJP activists led by local leaders made a bonfire of electricity bills and raised slogans against the MVA government’s alleged ‘betrayal’ of consumers with hollow promises.

In Mumbai’s Kandivli area, BJP workers clashed with the police. BJP MLA from Kandivali East Atul Bhatkhalkar, who was leading the protest, and other party workers were later taken into custody.

“The MVA government has shown itself to be utterly insensitive. It has betrayed the people’s trust. Unless they waive off power bills of ordinary people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the COVID-19 induced lockdown, we [BJP] will be intensifying the agitation,” said Mr. Bhatkalkar.

In Pune, BJP activists under the leadership of the city unit chief Jagdish Mulik staged a protest near the Maharashtra State Electricity Development Corporation Limited (MSEDCL) office at Somwar Peth.

“State Energy Minister Nitin Raut had promised consumers free electricity up to 50 units. But then, he conveniently backtracked on his promises. Our party is staging protests in 2,000 places in Maharashtra. If the State government does not prick its ears even after this, we will be protesting even more aggressively in the future,” Mr. Mulik said.

In Nagpur, protests were staged under the leadership of former State Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, while senior BJP leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil led demonstrations in Loni in Ahmednagar district.

“This is a problem afflicting 1.5 crore households across Maharashtra…if the MSEDCL agents attempt to disconnect power connections, then we [the BJP] will resist with all our might,” said Mr. Bawankule.

Mr. Vikhe-Patil, who defected from the Congress last year, dubbed the tripartite ruling MVA a “chaotic, corrupt government”.

“The MVA had earlier pronounced that they would give free electricity up to 100 units to common people… Instead, ordinary people who have houses with just a single bulb have received inflated bills up to ₹15,000. On the one hand, the MVA’s ministers claim that their government is cash-strapped. On the other, they make such laughable populist pronouncements of providing free electricity to people during the day,” said Mr. Vikhe-Patil.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who led a protest in Thane, said the parties in the MVA had gone back on the very promises they had made in their respective manifestos.

“Unfortunately, the MVA’s pet occupation seems to be only pointing fingers at the Centre. But the public is well-aware of this government’s misleading tactics,” he said.

Protests in Navi Mumbai

The BJP also staged agitations against inflated power bills at 12 places in Navi Mumbai and burnt copies of the bills outside the office of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. (MSEDCL) at Vashi.

“People don’t have intentions of not paying bills, but paying such excess amount is just not possible for them. If MSEDCL discontinues supply over non-payment of bill, we will stand by the consumer. This situation has occurred due to the pandemic, and the government needs to consider that,” Airoli BJP MLA Ganesh Naik said.

The Maharashtra Navanirman Sena has also planned a protest on November 26 at Konkan Bhavan in Belapur.

(With inputs from Raina Assainar)

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 3:35:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-stages-statewide-protests-over-inflated-power-bills-in-maharashtra/article33164116.ece

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