Gear up for 'Bharat bandh'
With the Centre on Sunday categorically ruling out any roll-back in fuel price hike, it is clear that the country will face a nationwide strike on Monday.
The issue has brought almost the entire opposition together with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and Left parties giving a call for a nation-wide strike on Monday, seeking a rollback.
All essential services like supply of water, milk, electricity, hospital and emergency services will be exempt from the 'hartal'.
The NDA and the Left parties made separate announcements in this regard and Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav claimed that it was the first such instance of opposition unity after the "JP movement" in the mid-seventies.
Sources said the impact of the bandh is likely to be the worst in at least 10 states where the opposition was holding reins. The bandh is also expected to have total impact in states like Maharashtra, where Shiv Sena -- an ally of the BJP --has announced their support to the bandh.
Click on NEXT to read how July 5 could bring the common man's life to a standstill.
Image: An employee fills a vehicle with petrol at a fuel station in New Delhi on June 25
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters
Mumbai gears up to tackle the strike
The Mumbai police has geared up to avert any untoward incident during the shutdown . "We have taken all security measures to ensure no untoward incident takes place. Anyone who takes law into their hands and attempts to paralyse the city shall be dealt with strict action," warned Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjeev Dayal.
He urged citizens to call the police in case of violence. "Our entire 40,000 policemen's force will be on duty to
maintain law and order in the city," Dayal added.
"Besides City Police force, additional forces such as Rapid Action Force and State Reserve Police Force will also be
present on the street to maintain vigil," he said.
City Police has shortlisted names of 'trouble makers' belonging to various political parties and issued notices to
them under section 149 of CrPC which allows police to prevent cognisable offences.
"We have issued notices to over 1,000 people associated with various political parties, including BJP, Shiv Sena and
MNS, who may create trouble. Some more may receive such notices today as well," a senior police officer told PTI.
"Any person or political party who indulge in any act of violence and arson will be made to pay compensation," the
The government is likely to file a contempt petition against the parties forcing the bandh after Monday.
The state government has set its sight on the Supreme Court judgment to prevent the parties from paralysing the
city and rest of the state on July 5.
As the suburban trains are likely to be targeted by protestors supporting bandh, adequate number of Railway
policemen would be deployed at stations for smooth functioning of service, police said.
"We have asked our staff to be on high alert," said a Western Railways spokesperson, adding "motormen will also be
guarded by securitymen as the protestors may target them to disrupt train services."
Image: Commuters travel in a suburban train in Mumbai
Photographs: Arko Datta / Reuters
Delhiites could face some hardships
Tough day expected for Delhi-ites
Delhiites could face some hardships in reaching their destinations tomorrow.
The four Left parties -- CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc -- will organise a protest demonstration at the busy ITO Chowk, which connects east Delhi with the heart of the capital.
The Left parties will be joined by Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam, JD(S), BJD, AIADMK and INLD in other parts of the country.
The Left parties will be organising protests at nine places in the capital while there will be three demonstrations in Ghaziabad and one in Noida. Out of the total 13 demonstrations by the Left, three will be organised by CPI(M) alone.
The BJP will also organise protests across the city. In the main protest in Chandni Chowk, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh will take part.
Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta meanwhile appealed to managements to keep their schools closed tomorrow and requested parents not to send their children to schools.
"All shops will remain closed and only emergency services are exempt from the strike," Gupta said.
Image: Activists from Socialist Unity Centre of India hold placards during a protest against the hike
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
Left-ruled states will bear the brunt
The Left parties rule three states -- Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura.
Along with the Left parties, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Telugu Desam Party, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, JD-Secular and Indian National Lok Dal have also called for a nationwide bandh to protest against the Centre's decision.
''The 12-hour hartal will begin at 0600 hrs and end at 1800 hrs,'' a statement issued by the Left parties said.
''The Congress-led government has delivered another cruel blow to the people by increasing prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG by deregulating the prices and leaving it to the market,'' the Left leaders said in the statement.
The Left leaders also said the only way for the people is to launch a powerful and collective protest to compel the government to heed their voice to withdraw the price hike. ''We appeal to all sections to register their protest by participating in our hartal.''
Image: A Bharatiya Janata Party activist stands near a placard, which depicts the increase in petrol prices
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
BJP chalks out strategy
Meanwhile, top leaders of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance chalked out the strategy for the nationwide strike.
"This may be the first time in history of India's politics that almost all political parties will participate in the Bharat Bandh," NDA Working Chairperson L K Advani said after a meeting of the leaders.
He gave credit to NDA convenor and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav for bringing together even the non-NDA political parties for the one-day strike. Though the Left parties have given a call for a 'Bharat Bandh' separately tomorrow, RJD, SP, LJP
and some smaller parties will not be a part of the strike.
The NDA has made elaborate plans for the bandh. While BJP president Nitin Gadkari, Yadav and Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur will lead the strike at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj will be in Bhopal and her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will be in Lucknow.
Among other leaders, Venkaiah Naidu will be in Hyderabad, Ananth Kumar in Bangalore, Gopinath Munde in Mumbai and Vasundhara Raje in Jaipur.
The party said the leaders have been deputed to states to ensure success of the 'bandh'. All MPs and MLAs have been asked to hold protest demonstrations in their respective constituencies.
Image: Activists from the Socialist Unity Centre of India burn an effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
Reviving the 1970s?
While the Samajwadi Party is supporting the government from outside, it has decided to join the bandh apparently due to the political dynamics of Uttar Pradesh, where a revived Congress is striving to come to power in the 2012 elections.
The party has claimed that the hike in fuel prices has brought 'warmth' in opposition ties like the one before the imposition of Emergency in the 1970s.
"If the government continues to follow anti-people policies, the opposition may unite once again," SP spokesperson Mohan Singh said, noting that 'a full-fledged opposition unity is still a far cry'.
Ajit Singh's RLD has not revealed its cards so far but the party has been supportive of the Congress in Rajya Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh last month paving the way for the victory of former Union Minister Satish Sharma, a known loyalist of the Gandhi family.
Image: BJP activists hold LPG cylinders during a protest in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters