Mumbai: The ruling Shiv Sena has said the Congress’ Bharat bandh Monday failed to generate desired impact in Maharashtra because the Uddhav Thackeray-led party was not “consulted” over the protest, a day after the Sena spurned the Congress’ demand to support the shutdown. Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar (Shiv Sena) said the bandh was observed only in half of Maharashtra.
Sena is a partner in the BJP-led governments at Centre and Maharashtra. Senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut Monday said the bandh would have generated better impact had the Congress consulted his party in advance. The nationwide shutdown was called by the Congress and other opposition parties to protest against the rising fuel prices.
Kesarkar said the bandh evoked “some” response because it was organised for a good cause, but not to the expectations of the Congress leadership. “Based on a preliminary report with me, the success rate of the bandh across the state was around 47% to 50%, but I don’t want to politicise the protest,” he told reporters.
When asked about the Congress’ demand to reduce the state taxes on petrol and diesel to rein in the rising prices, the minister said that it would be a policy decision. “If the Centre and Maharashtra governments reduce the taxes, it will automatically reflect in the retail prices of fuel,” he said. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis (BJP) has already stated that his administration was exploring ways to slash the fuel prices.
“Some states in the country are largely dependent on revenue that comes from levying taxes on fuel. If fuel is brought under the ambit of the GST, these states will not benefit on the fiscal front and their economy might be in trouble,” Kesarkar said. He said the prices of fuel can be brought down if all states come together. Raut said the bandh would have been more effective had the Congress considered various aspects.
“Those who do not understand Maharashtra had called for the bandh just ahead of Ganesh festival (beginning September 13). It was a wrong timing. Even the Goa congress did not participate in the bandh because of the Ganesh festival,” Raut told a Marathi news channel. He said the bandh evoked better response in north India than in Maharashtra. “We feel sad that most of the Maharashtra was working today,” Raut said.
He said the people of Maharashtra generally participate in such bandhs voluntarily if the call is given by the Sena. “Organising a shutdown when the people are in a festive mood was uncalled for. The Congress should have avoided doing so,” Raut said. He also hinted at the factionalism in the Congress party. “Those who feel that factional politics in the Congress would be over, I wish them good luck. They should rethink over their agitation,” Raut said.
Interestingly, the Sena had yesterday spurned the Congress’ request to participate in Monday’s bandh. Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan had said his party was expecting the Sena to support the shutdown against the price hike. However, Raut had said the Sena was looking at the bandh neutrally.