Bhubaneswar: Over 1,000 Congress activists and leaders Friday courted arrest during protest outside Raj Bhavan here over BJP-led Centre’s “faulty economic policies” leading to price rise of essential commodities.
The grand old party also demonstrated against the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in Odisha for “rendering support” to the BJP government at the Centre.
Several Congress activists engaged in a scuffle with security personnel as they were stopped from going past the barricade near Raj Bhavan following which some of them, including the party’s state president, Sarat Pattnayak, and MLA Suresh Routray were arrested, a police officer said.
Many agitators were taken to custody as a preventive measure, he said.
They were released later in the day, the officer added.
Similar agitations were staged in all the district headquarters of the state, Pattnayak said, adding that that the demonstration was part of the nationwide protest by the party against the sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities, growing unemployment and GST imposition on basic food items.
Party activists, before embarking on their march to Raj Bhavan, assembled near the additional district magistrate’s office here and shouted slogans and displayed placards condemning the price rise of all commodities, particularly food items. When police intercepted them, the agitators staged a sit-in on the road, raising slogans against the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the ruling BJD in the state.
“The BJP and the BJD are two sides of one coin. Both the parties are exploiting people, particularly the poor and middle class sections. Naveen Patnaik’s party supports all anti-people policies of the Modi government,” the Congress state president said.
He noted that the BJD “did not raise its voice” at the GST Council meeting when it decided to impose tax on basic food items.
Raising question on Modi’s “Achhe Din” slogan, the Congress leaders said the BJP had assured the people of this country that implementation of GST will give benefits to consumers “but what happened was just the opposite”.
All sections of people, particularly the poor, farmers, low-income group and middle class sections, have been hit hard by the price rise, they said.
The Congress also came down heavily on the Modi government over the issue of unemployment, and said that “instead of giving jobs to 16 crore people as announced by Modi, around 13 crore people lost their livelihood due to the faulty economic policies”.
The BJP, however, termed the agitation as a “bid to cover up” financial irregularities committed by top leaders of the Congress.
“The Congress rally will have no impact on people,” said BJP state general secretary P Harichandan.