Afternoon Voice

Bharat Bandh and Opposition Parties

At the National Executive Meeting of the BJP in Delhi (September 8-9), observations made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Party President Amit Shah should be taken note of. The Prime Minister of India is never on leave or on holiday. This is what Amit Shah said emphasising that ever since Modi assumed the office of Prime Minister, he has been working tirelessly without a break since 2014. There is no example in the world where elected Prime Minister or President of a country works even on Sundays and holidays.  In the majority of cases, the elected Prime Minister and President go for vacation to take a break from work. But here is a Prime Minister in India who is working seven days a week.

The Opposition parties who talk of Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance are in disarray. The parties and its leaders who can’t stand one another are talking of ‘unity’, Modi observed. Nothing can be more illustrative than the Bharat Bandh call of September 10 by the Opposition Parties led by Congress. Mamata Banerjee kept herself away from Bandh citing that being Chief Minister of West Bengal she could not support a Bandh call, though her Party Trinamool Congress extended moral support for the protest against fuel price rise.

Two other Chief Ministers, Navin Patnaik of Odisha and K Chandrashekhar Rao of Telangana did not join the protest either.

The divide within the Opposition is wide and showing. In Uttar Pradesh, for instance, Samajwadi Party suffered set back after Shivpal Yadav floated his new political outfit ‘Samajwadi Secular Morcha’. Shivpal declared that his new Morcha would contest all the 80 seats of Lok Sabha in Uttar Pradesh.

In Uttar Pradesh, it is not clear what would be the status of the Congress Party when it comes to sharing the seats with Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Barely seven months are left for the general elections to Lok Sabha due next year.

Telangana which will be going to polls with its new Assembly along with state assembly elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram in a few months from now, this year has distanced itself from the Congress. Though in the state assembly elections, the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti will contest polls in alliance with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, the equation is likely to change in the Lok Sabha elections to the advantage of BJP.

From all indications emanating from Bhubaneswar, the Biju Janata Dal has so far spurned the offer of the Congress Party for a tie-up against the BJP in Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Coming back to the Bandh of September 10, the Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi have been harping on a figure of Rs 11 lakh crores collected as taxes from petrol, diesel and cooking gas since 2014. The revenue collected from the sale of petroleum products goes to the coffers of the State Governments and to the consolidated fund of India that is Central Government. The money has not been pocketed by the BJP or the Prime Minister. The money has been utilised in funding various welfare projects of the government for the benefit of the people of the country.

By and large, the Bandh call failed to impact larger parts of the country. At around 3 in the afternoon of Monday, a friend in Mumbai said that things were near to normal barring a few pockets in the city. Banks and other offices functioned without disruption.

The Government at the Centre and the BJP are engaged in easing the pressure on rising fuel prices being driven by the twin factors of sliding rupee against the US dollar and rising price of crude oil in the international market; both the factors are beyond the control of the Central Government.

The decision of the US President Donald Trump to exit the nuclear deal with Iran has caused a fall in the Iranian crude oil exports. India is under pressure from Washington to stop buying crude oil from Iran.

There has been a cut in production of crude oil by two major oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia. It has also pushed the prices of oil in the International market.

“The ongoing escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, continuing conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen have significantly taken their toll on the region,” according to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

The continuous increase in crude oil prices is likely to impact consumption pattern world over. According to one survey, global consumption of oil is likely to fall thus easing pressure on the price front.

The trend of rising graph is likely to stabilise. The crude prices may fall in near future. There is no need to create panic.

 

R K SINHA

(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AFTERNOON VOICE and AFTERNOON VOICE does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)