The six-hour bandh call given by the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) against the hike in fuel prices evoked total response on Monday.
Congress members blocked major roads across the State. However, essential services such as ambulance and doctors’ vehicles were kept out of the purview of the bandh enforced from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Train services were affected as Congress workers squatted on the track, and offices remained closed. Bus services were earlier halted in view of the bandh.
“The support to our bandh call was spontaneous. The fuel price is almost touching the ₹100-mark per litre in the State. People can no longer afford it. At a time when the Centre is lowering corporate taxes, what is stopping them from waiving off taxes on fuel? The poor and middle-class are suffering due to the unprecedented fuel price hike,” said Niranjan Patnaik, OPCC president.
“The economy of the country is going downhill. However, income of only 1% of population has increased, to the extent of 35%. The income of poor and middle-class people is either stagnant or decreasing,” said Mr. Patnaik.
Veteran Congress leader Suresh Kumar Routray pointed out that the fuel price hike had led to a rise in prices of essential commodities, and the Narendra Modi Government should be blamed for the situation.
The Congress demanded immediate lowering of taxes on petrol and diesel by both the State and the Central governments.
Apart from the hike in fuel prices, the Congress had called the bandh to also protest issues such as rise in unemployment, non-procurement of paddy, missing children, deterioration in law and order situation and political violence.