Bharat bandh: Left leaders court arrest in Delhi

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja along with other leaders shout anti-government slogans during the \'Bharat Bandh\', in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)

Joining the Opposition onslaught against the Narendra Modi government on rising fuel prices, the Left parties on Monday organised a countrywide hartal, even as its top leaders courted arrest along with scores of activists.

The Left parties - CPM, CPI, RSP, Forward Block, CPI-ML, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) and Communist Ghadar Party of India - had issued a separate call of an all-India protest on Monday coinciding with the Congress' call for a 'Bharat Bandh' against the Modi government, which was supported by around 21 parties.

The Left leaders claimed the all-India protest, which once again brought the Opposition parties together, was a success as it put pressure on some of the BJP-led governments to suddenly decrease taxes on fuel.

The protest also witnessed the AAP's presence in both camps - the Left and the Congress - though the Arvind Kejriwal-led party on Sunday had said that it will not participate in the Congress protest. The Trinamool Congress also supported the Congress call even as it initially was against a 'bandh'.

Sources said the Congress and the Left leaders worked the telephone lines on Sunday evening and brought the AAP into the scheme of things. While senior AAP leader Aatishi went to Jantar Mantar to attend the Left protest, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh was in Rajghat where Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the protest.

In the national capital, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, his CPI counterpart S Sudhakar Reddy, CPM Polit Bureau members Tapan Sen and Nilotpal Basu, as well CPI national secretaries D Raja, Atul Kumar Anjan, A Narayana and Amarpreet Kaur led the protests in Delhi where they along with Left activists courted arrest.

“The BJP claims that the Opposition is coming together because of Modi. No, it is not the case. Distressed people of the country are pressurising Opposition parties to come together against the anti-people BJP government at the Centre,” Yechury told reporters at the protest venue.

Yechury said the BJP can dream about remaining in power for next 50 years but people will ensure that they remain day-dreaming. "Everybody has the right to dream. That they did not discuss this and other issues like farmers distress shows their callous attitude," he said.

On the BJP National Executive held over the weekend not discussing the fuel price issue, Raja said it showed that they are not worried about the people but only want to be in power.

A united Opposition has been upping the ante over the Modi government by organising protests and building an anti-BJP narrative centred around its alleged anti-people measures.

Though they accept that there cannot be a "Grand Alliance" at the national level, they are working on regional coalitions for fighting elections, while making their united presence felt at the national level.

Informal understanding

There has been an informal understanding among the Opposition parties to hold at least one event, not necessarily on a political platform, at the national level every month where leaders are seen together.

In August, the Opposition organised 'Sanjha Virasat Bachao' (Save Composite Culture) seminar in Delhi, this month they have decided to have an all-India 'Bandh' on fuel price issue.

The CPM-led mass organisations organised a massive peasant-workers rally last week, while they are holding a series of agitations in the coming months involving youths, farmers, central government employees and trade unions.

  • Bharat Bandh
  • CPI(M)
  • Fuel price