Bhubaneswar, Jul 14 (PTI) Odisha on Wednesday witnessed noisy rallies and protests by opposition BJP and Congress while the ruling BJD started consultation within the party over issues affecting the public.
Congress workers led by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik held a cycle rally protesting hike in fuel prices while BJP activists launched a week-long statewide stir against a rise in electricity tariff.
While members of the Congress women's wing staged an agitation holding empty cooking gas cylinders protesting the increase in prices of LPG, youth Congress activists took to cycles to protest fuel price hikes.
Calling the BJP-led NDA government 'anti-people', OPCC President Patnaik said: 'For the first time since independence, a government has deliberately let petrol prices cross Rs 100. This is unbearable during a time of pandemic.' He said Congress is raising the voice of the common man. The fuel price hike has also led to a rise in the prices of all essential commodities, the Congress leader pointed out.
OPCC working president and former MP Pradip Majhi said his party would raise the issue in a 'big way' in Parliament.
'This is not at all acceptable ... There is no reason to collect taxes from people in the name of fuel price,' he said.
Congress women activists also raised slogans against the Prime Minister and held him responsible for the burden on the poor and middle class.
The Congress also ridiculed Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik for remaining silent over the price hike of fuel. Majhi alleged that BJD was hand in gloves with the BJP.
The OPCC president also appealed to the people to fully support the left partys Odisha Bandh on Thursday against increase in prices of essential commodities.
Meanwhile, the BJP president Samir Mohanty said the party has launched a weeklong agitation before all the electricity offices across the state against a recent tariff hike..
Even though the state government has assured the Odisha Assembly that it will write to the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) following a raise of 20 paise per unit in April this year, the government has remained silent encouraging the commission to raise the tariff by another 30 paise per unit, alleged Mohanty.
'At a time when other states are charging Rs 4.80 per unit from domestic consumers, Odisha is charging Rs 5.70 per unit for the same. Central funds are being misutilised here. We demand the State government withdraw the hike in power tariff immediately,' said Bhrugu Baxipatra, State BJP vice-president.
BJD is in a quandary over handling the twin agitations politically and many insiders feel the studied silence of BJP Supremo Naveen Patnaik has only deepened the confusion among the partys rank and file.
Many feel that if the BJD remained silent on fuel price issue, people may start believing that the regional outfit was in league with the BJP government at the centre, a senior leader said.
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