Congress-led Bandh Hampers Normal Life in Odisha
Normal life in Odisha was hampered due to a six-hour bandh called by the Congress in protest against the rise of fuel prices. Due to the bandh, all educational institutions were shut, train services were affected, and vehicles remained off the roads.
As per a home department official, no untoward incident has been reported. For the protest, the Congress activists blocked national highways in various parts of the state, including in the capital city Bhubaneswar, leading to traffic jams. The protests were led by Congress MLA Suresh Routray as the members staged a ‘rail roko’ at the Bhubaneswar railway station.
Bus travellers also faced trouble commuting since the All Odisha Bus Owners Association suspended passenger bus services across the state during the bandh hours.
As many as 25 platoons of police personnel were deployed in the state capital to prevent any untoward incident.
“The bandh has been completely peaceful due to massive support from the people”, said Niranjan Patnaik, Chief of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee. Emergency services like ambulance, milk vans, vehicles of media, and examinees were exempted from the coverage of the bandh.
“The bandh was called to mount pressure on both the state and Central governments to reduce tax on petroleum products, which will help in lowering the prices of petrol and diesel”, Patnaik added.
Many government officials struggled to reach their offices across the state, including in Bhubaneswar. As a precaution, the main gates of the Lok Seva Bhavan were closed at 10.15 am to prevent the agitators from entering the premises while employees used the side gates for entry and exit.
Ruling party BJD neither supported nor opposed the bandh, but the opposition BJP criticized the Congress for causing trouble to the people. “Congress is facing an identity crisis and it called for the bandh to divert people’s attention from its internal squabbles. The state government should also announce a reduction in VAT and opt for GST on petroleum products to bring down the prices of petrol and diesel”, said B.C. Sethi, BJP MLA and the party’s deputy leader in the Assembly.