Maharashtra Congress Leaders Ride Bicycles To Assembly Over Fuel Prices

Their choice of day for the protest was significant - the first day of the state Assembly's budget session.

Ministers Balasaheb Thorat, Aslam Shaikh, and Yashomati Thakur took part in the rally.

Mumbai:

After Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar, Robert Vadra in New Delhi, and a whole bunch of opposition MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, it was the Maharashtra Congress's turn today. Top leaders of the ruling party today arrived at the state Assembly in Mumbai riding bicycles to register their protest against galloping fuel prices.

Their choice of day for the protest was significant - the first day of the state Assembly's budget session. The Congress is part of the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance that rules the state, which includes the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Maharashtra ministers Balasaheb Thorat, Aslam Shaikh, and Yashomati Thakur, and Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap were among those who took part in the rally.

Talking to reporters, state Congress chief Nana Patole accused the Centre of mocking the people and committing the "sin" of snatching food from their mouths. "The state government has made life of the common man difficult with the rise in petrol price...the Centre is mocking the people," he alleged.

Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP, however, put the onus on the state government saying it can cut taxes and provide relief, according to PTI. "The state government can reduce the amount it charges and provide relief to the common man," he said.

Fuel prices have been rising across the country over the past many weeks. In Mumbai, petrol is selling at over Rs 97and diesel at Rs 88.64.

The Central government has come under immense criticism over this. Leaders and Chief Ministers of opposition parties, ranging from the Congress to the Trinamool to the RJD, have protested against it.

For instance, a few days ago, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rode an electric scooter to the secretariat carrying a placard on fuel prices. Sometime before that, Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) rode a bicycle to the Bihar Assembly in which he is the leader of the opposition. He had earlier arrived on a bullock cart, too, to convey the same message.

Businessman Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, rode a bicycle in February in the national capital to highlight petrol and diesel prices. Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, too, used the same symbolic protest last month in Bhopal.