In a unique style of protest against fuel price hike, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday commuted to and from state secretariat Nabanna on an electric scooter.
While on way to Nabanna in the morning, Banerjee was seen riding pillion on the battery-powered electric scooter driven by minister Firhad Hakim.
TMC supremo herself took the driver's seat on way back to her residence in Kalighat area from secretariat in the afternoon.
With a placard protesting against the petrol price hike hanging around her neck, helmet-clad Banerjee waved at people on both sides of the road during the seven-km-long journey from Hazra More to the state secretariat in the first half.
On return, the CM, however, decided to drive the vehicle herself at a slow speed with Hakim and some security personnel following her on foot.
She drove the e-scooter till Rabindra Sadan-Exide Crossing when Hakim took it from her again. But, as the scooter entered Harish Mukherjee road, Banerjee was once again on the driving seat till reaching home.
During return she took a different route passing through Vidyasagar setu-A J C Bose Road-Harish Mukherjee Road-Hazra to her home.
In the morning after reaching Nabanna following a 45- minute ride, Banerjee slammed the BJP-led government at the Centre saying, 'We are protesting against the fuel price hike.
The Modi government only makes false promises. They have done nothing to bring down fuel prices.
'You can see the difference in petrol prices when the Modi government came to power and now.' She said the TMC will launch a stir against fuel price rise from Friday.
With the state elections not too far, the TMC supremo is not missing any opportunity to score over her main rival BJP.
Polls to 294-member West Bengal assembly are due in April-May this year.
'The BJP had promised free LPG connections to the people before coming to power and now they are hiking its price,' Banerjee said.
'Modi and Shah are selling the country. They are selling the profit-making PSUs. This is an anti-people, anti-woman, anti-youth, anti-farmer government,' she said.
The feisty TMC chief also criticised the BJP government for renaming the Sardar Patel Stadium, popularly known as the Motera stadium, in Ahmedabad after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
'The way they are changing the names of stadiums, who knows they might change the name of the country in the coming days,' she quipped.
Speaking on her unique way of protest, Banerjee said, 'I rode on an e-scooter to protest the manner in which petrol, diesel and LPG prices are rising.
'A middle-class household needs two LPG cylinders a month which they can't afford now. Over 1 crore people in our state also depend on kerosene which they are not getting now,' she said.
The chief minister was trailed by security personnel on other two-wheelers and two hired yellow taxis as other vehicles followed her a little distance away.
There was tight security along the Hazra-Exide-AJC Bose Road-Vidyasagar Setu route.
Curious onlookers stood alongside the route of Vidyasagar Setu, A J C Bose Road and Asutosh Mukherjee Road to have a glimpse of Banerjee driving the scooter.
The opposition parties, however, called her protest an 'election stunt'.
'The CM is resorting to novel theatrics ahead of the elections but the state government is not doing its bit to reduce fuel prices,' BJP leader Jai Prakash Majumder said.
Congress Legislature Party leader Abdul Mannan said, 'This is nothing but an election stunt. Why is the state government not substantially withdrawing cess to blunt the effect of the fuel price hike to help the common man?' Left Front leader Sujan Chakraborty compared her fuel hike protest with her earlier riding pillion on a motorcycle driven by former PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato during the Lalgarh agitation.
'Banerjee had ridden pillion on Chhatradhar Mahato's motorcycle in the Jangalmahal region before coming to power in the state but later people of that region witnessed the TMC's intimidation and terror,' he said.
(With inputs from PTI)