Bharat Bandh: Opposition Unites To Corner Modi Government; Normal Life Paralysed
Bharat Bandh: Opposition Unites To Corner Modi Government; Normal Life ParalysedCongress workers staging a protest in Guwahati (pic via Twitter)

A number of Opposition parties have come together to protest against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for what it calls are ‘excesses’ on its part. Calling it a ‘Bharat bandh’, here are some of its reasons:

Rising fuel prices

The Congress has been demanding that fuel be brought under the purview of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It has also been alleging that fuel prices under the BJP government have been seeing an upward spiral, and it was hurting the common man beyond measure.

BJP counter

The BJP says that by the time Narendra Modi took over from the Congress, the UPA had issued ‘oil bonds’ worth Rs 1.3 lakh crore to Oil Manufacturing Companies, which means that it was only a promise to pay for oil obtained, and not actual cash-for-receipts. In the last four years, the Modi government has had to pay back UPA’s debt in full along with Rs 70,000 crore in interest, as bonds, when issued, have to be repaid with interest. Hence, the inconvenience.

Rafale deal

The Congress is also alleging corruption in the Rafale deal, which seeks to procure state-of-the-art aircraft for the Indian defence forces.

BJP counter

The BJP, on its part, has rubbished all allegations of corruption by stating that the contract is between two governments (G2G) and that everything is straightforward. The BJP said the Bofors deal, which the then Congress government under Rajiv Gandhi struck with Swedish firm Bofors AB, was not a government-to-government contract and hence was plagued by corruption. The Rafale contract did not have any of these elements, it said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has, however, said that the deal will be audited but only after the contract is completed.

Meanwhile, the bandh on Monday (10 September) has paralysed life across the country. In Bengaluru, state road transport corporations have suspended bus services. Private transporters like Ola, Uber and autorickshaws have lent their support to the bandh. In Odisha and Karnataka, schools have been declared closed.

Who is taking part in the strike?

According to the Congress, 21 Opposition parties are taking part in the protest. Among them are Janata Dal (Secular), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (CPM), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

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