It is not a sight that one could have anticipated. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday rode pillion on a scooter through the city of Kolkata. In front of her sat Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim adeptly driving the vehicle.
The commute was also a mark of protest against the rise in fuel prices that have contributed to commuter woes in recent days. While Hakim, the state's Minister of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs drove, Banerjee was spotted wearing posters that hung from her neck. The posters bore what appeared to be an LPG cylinder with a demonic face. It also mentioned the petrol and diesel price hike.
In recent days, petrol prices have hit a disturbing landmark of Rs. 100 per litre in some parts of the country, even as other areas inch closer to the milestone. In the meantime, LPG prices spiked by Rs. 75 in the month of February alone.
Going by a post shared on the Trinamool Congress' official Twitter handle, the two had been on their way to the state Secretariat in Nabanna. A video shared by news agency ANI shows the scooter crossing the Vidyasagar Setu that precedes Nabanna, surrounded by other vehicles and commuters.
The fuel prices have become a bone of contention in the poll-bound state with the Chief Minister repeatedly hitting out at the Central government. Reacting to the rising prices, the Mamata Banerjee led government had reduced VAT on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre.
"The Central government earns rupees 32.90 per litre in taxes from petrol, while the state government gets rupees 18.46 only. For diesel, the central government’s earning is rupees 31.80 per litre as against rupees 12.77 for the state governments. West Bengal government will hold talks with the centre once they start reducing their tax," said the West Bengal Finance Minister.
(With inputs from Aritra Singha)