Mumbai: As petrol prices on Monday shot up to Rs 89.97 in Maharashtra’s Parbhani – the highest in India – the Opposition Congress staged a ‘rail-roko’ agitation here as part of the party-sponsored nationwide shutdown to protest rising fuel prices.
Parbhani District Petrol Dealers Association (PDPDA) President Sanjay Deshmukh said that while petrol was nearly touching the psychological barrier of Rs 90 per litre, (Rs 89.97), diesel prices stood at Rs 77.92 on Monday. Elsewhere in Maharashtra, petrol was Rs 88 and diesel at Rs 76, said All India Petrol Dealers Association (AIPDA) spokesperson Ali Daruwala, besides various local tax additions.
The all-India anti-fuel price hike shutdown got underway in different parts of Maharashtra with all parties, barring the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena, joining in wholeheartedly. Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan and Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam led thousands of activists to stage a noisy protest outside the Andheri station bus depot, and later they got down on the railway tracks, shouting anti-government slogans.
Several leaders including former ministers Naseem Khan, Manikrao Thakre, Suresh Shetty, joined the agitation as police maintained strict security at Andheri. However, suburban trains, BEST buses, schools and colleges functioned normally, though shops and commercial establishments downed shutters in many localities, including pockets where the opposition is influential.
Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists also led aggressive protests in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Pune, Nashik and others areas of the state. As per preliminary reports, the shutdown has elicited mixed response in urban centres, but widespread support in the semi-urban and rural hinterland which have been badly hit by the spiraling fuel prices. 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.