Congress workers carry an effigy of PM Modi and shout slogans during a protest against the fuel price hike in Kolkata on Friday.
Congress workers carry an effigy of PM Modi and shout slogans during a protest against the fuel price hike in Kolkata on Friday.
-AFP

New Delhi

The Congress Friday demonstrated in parts of the country against the rising fuel prices, during which over 150 members were detained in Gujarat, Delhi and UP for allegedly violating Covid protocol and protesting without permission.

The protests, in response to a call given by the Congress leadership, came on a day when another hike — the 22nd since May 4 — pushed the fuel prices across the country to historic heights.

The protesters pulled bullock carts, rode horse carts, staged a street play, pulled a car using a rope and set another on fire to highlight their concerns.

The protesting leaders said the rising fuel prices and inflation have compounded the problem people were already facing due to the pandemic.

An official party statement claimed the protests were held across the country. It said barring a few incidents of “police highhandedness” in UP and Gujarat where Congress workers were stopped and detained these protests were peaceful.

The party said 140 crore people of India are suffering the “Modi-made disaster” of inflation, unemployment, economic recession and the coronavirus pandemic.

Petrol is retailing above the Rs100/litre mark in six states and UTs — Rajasthan, MP, Maharashtra, Andhra, Telangana and Ladakh.

In the last 13 months, the BJP government raised petrol and diesel rates by Rs 26.25 and Rs24.46 respectively, the Congress alleged.

“This amounts to a shocking 820% hike in excise duty on diesel and 258% increase in excise duty on petrol.”

Over 30 Congress workers were detained during the protests at petrol pumps in the national capital with the police saying they flouted the Covid protocol. Party leaders KC Venugopal and Shakti Singh Gohil reached the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium petrol pump on a horse cart.

“The government should stop imposing excise duty on petrol and diesel. It should come under the purview of Goods and Services Tax. We demand a complete rollback of fuel price hike,” Venugopal, the Congress general secretary, said.

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and other party workers were detained by police before their protest. “I was not allowed to step out of the house in the morning and later brought to the Eco Garden where about 350 party workers, including MLC Dipak Singh and other-officer bearers were present," Lallu told PTI over the phone. Protests were staged across the state, he said, adding party leaders were "arrested" in Allahabad too. Over 100 Congress workers, MLAs and leaders were detained across Gujarat too.

Fear has gripped him: Rahul

Without naming Prime Minister Modi in his latest tweet on Friday, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said he is fearful of all, be it truth, questions or cartoons. He didn’t state what is the psyche of Modi that the fear has gripped him to prevent any right decisions. “Alethophobia” is the term for the fear of truth, he tweeted. In another tweet, he said: “GDP crashing, unemployment soaring, fuel pries skyrocketing. In how many more wahs is #BJPLootingIndia?”

Adding on to his hashtag #BJPLootingIndia, his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted the Modi government recovered Rs2.74 lakh crore through tax on petrol and diesel which would have been enough for vaccination of entire India (Rs67,000 crore) +718 oxygen plants in 718 districts +AIIMS hospitals in 29 staes + Rs6,000 to 25 crore poor. “But nothing received,” she added. She was commenting on the nationwide protests and dhrana by the Congress workers across the country on Friday against the backbreaking hike in the prices of petrol and diesel. —Our Bureau

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