Cong takes out marches, observes bandh to protest against rising fuel prices

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New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) The Congress took out marches and observed bandh at several places on Saturday to protest against rising fuel prices.

Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the BJP government should name the day petrol and diesel prices do not rise as 'achha din' as all other days are 'expensive' 'The BJP government should rename that day of the week as 'achha din' when diesel and petrol do not increase. Because, due to rising inflation, the rest of the days are 'expensive days' for common people,' she said in a tweet in Hindi.

Addressing a 'kisan mahapanchayat' attended by thousands of people in Muzaffarnagar, she likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the character of an arrogant king, ahankari raja, from stories of yore, as she attacked him on a range of issues, including the price of petrol and diesel. The Congress has been demanding that tax on petrol and diesel be reduced and the common people given relief in prices of fuel.

In Rajasthan, party workers organised marches in all districts to mark its protest against the rising fuel prices and also the farms laws enacted by the Centre.

In Jaipur, the protest was led by Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas and Congress Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi.

The Congress leaders were seen riding on tractors, camels and elephants besides participating in foot march as party workers and protestors raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in a series of tweets Gehlot targeted the Centre, saying the common man is suffering as a result of 'wrong' economic policies of the Centre.

'The Modi government imposes excise duty of Rs 32.90 on petrol and Rs 31.80 per litre on diesel. Whereas during the UPA government in 2014 there was an excise duty of only Rs 9.20 on petrol and just Rs 3.46 on diesel. The Modi government should reduce excise duty in the interest of the public without delay,' he tweeted in Hindi.

'People are affected by petrol and diesel prices. Prices have been increasing continuously for the last 11 days. This is the result of wrong economic policies of the Modi government. Crude oil prices in the international market are currently half of what it used to be during the UPA rule, but petrol-diesel prices have reached an all-time high,' Gehlot said in another tweet.

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress called a half-day bandh which, it said, received good response but the ruling BJP dismissed it as a failed exercise.

Former minister P C Sharma claimed he and several other Congress leaders and workers were detained in Bhopal by police.

State Congress chief Kamal Nath had on Friday urged the people to join in the 'bandh' in order to 'wake up the government over the soaring prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas'.

In a few districts of the state, including Indore, there were some incidents of standoffs between the police and the protesters.

In the national capital, activists of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) staged a protest at Shastri Bhawan and demanded the resignation of Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

IYC media incharge Rahul Rao said several members of the Congress' youth wing including its president Srinivas BV and other leaders were detained and taken to various police stations.

'The BJP leaders who used to protest over prices of petrol and diesel have kept mum now. The prices of petrol have touched Rs 100 per litre in many parts of the country and the Modi government is doing nothing to provide relief to the people,' he said.

The Petroleum Minister should step down if he cannot keep the prices of petrol and diesel in check, he said.

IYC members raised slogans such as 'Abki Baar Petrol 100 Ke Paar' and 'Modi Hai To Mehngayi Hai', obliquely targeting BJP's poll slogans. The protesters were stopped by police while they were heading towards Petroleum Ministry at Shastri Bhawan on RP Road.

In 12 days, retail petrol prices have risen by Rs 3.63 a litre, a record since the pricing was deregulated in 2010, and diesel rates have gone up by Rs 3.84.

Petrol price has already surged past the Rs 100-mark in some places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, which levy the highest VAT on the fuel. On Saturday, petrol price touched an all-time high of Rs 97 per litre in Mumbai while diesel rate crossed Rs 88-mark. PTI TEAM ZMN