Mumbai: The all-India anti-fuel price hike shutdown evoked a mixed response in Maharashtra on Monday, with all parties – barring the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena – joining it wholeheartedly. In Mumbai and other cities, large numbers took to the streets, railway stations, bus depots, and other public places carrying banners and placards, raising anti-government slogans, taking out processions or staging sit-in protests against the spiraling prices of petrol, diesel and gas. However, suburban trains, BEST buses, schools and colleges functioned normally. But shops and commercial establishments downed shutters in many localities.
Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan and Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam led thousands of slogan-shouting activists to stage protests outside the Andheri bus depot and later they trooped down on the railway tracks to stage a rail-blockade. However, before they could disrupt the train services, many leaders, including Chavan, Nirupam, Manikrao Thakre, Baba Siddiqui, Suresh Shetty and others were detained. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists also led protests in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Pune, Nashik and others areas of the state.
In Dadar, MNS activists broke police cordons and waved black flags as the motorcade of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis zoomed past. In Andheri, they attempted to stop the Mumbai Metro Rail but there were no major dislocations in the services. The shutdown elicited mixed response in urban centres but secured widespread support in the semi-urban and rural hinterland which have been severely hit by the fuel prices and its cascading effects.
In Aurangabad, protestors took out bullock cart rallies and filled petrol in their vehicles with droppers. Some petrol pumps in Thane, Pune and elsewhere remaind shut as a precaution. Places like Thane, Palghar, Pune, Nashik, Nanded, Parbhani, Kolhapur, Raigad, Ratnagiri witnessed processions and roadside dharnas. There was stone-pelting at buses in Mumbai and Pune. The Shiv Sena editorially attacked the Modi government for its failures on all fronts.
In edits in party mouthpieces ‘Saamana’ and ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’, the Sena also criticized the opposition parties for “finally awakening” to the misery of the masses. The shutdown has been supported by Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (S), RPI (G), Peasant and Workers Party, Left Parties, Swabhimani Shetkari Party, Peoples Republican Party, besides other local and regional parties in Maharashtra.