AAP joins petrol agitation

Aam Aadmi Party leaders on Monday joined the Rahul Gandhi-led agitation against rising petrol and diesel prices, a day after the capital's ruling party had questioned the Congress's "moral high ground" to call the Bharat bandh.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 11.09.18
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Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and AAP leader Sanjay Singh at a 'dharna' during the 'Bharat Bandh' against fuel price hike and depreciation of the rupee in New Delhi. (PTI)

New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party leaders on Monday joined the Rahul Gandhi-led agitation against rising petrol and diesel prices, a day after the capital's ruling party had questioned the Congress's "moral high ground" to call the Bharat bandh.

AAP parliamentarian Sanjay Singh and several MLAs marked their presence at Rajghat and Ramlila Maidan, sharing the stage with Rahul and other Opposition leaders.

Senior AAP leader Atishi attended the Left's protest on Sansad Marg.

On Sunday, however, AAP spokesperson and Delhi unit secretary Saurabh Bharadwaj had tweeted: "Whether it's fuel prices or it's depreciating Rupee Vs US dollar, Congress and BJP are so alike. Does Congress have moral high ground to call All India Bandh?"

The party's publicity machinery had instead focused on a scheme - launched on Monday - for door-delivery of services, such as driving licences and marriage registration.

But it issued a statement on Sunday, saying: "People of India will teach the Modi government a lesson in the coming Lok Sabha elections soon for its betrayal on the issue of price rise and failed promises which it had made in 2014."

A source close to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the AAP agreed to participate in the Rahul-led stir at Ramlila Maidan after senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel spoke to the AAP boss on Sunday night.

In a statement on Monday, the AAP said: "The Aam Aadmi Party is of the clear view that all Opposition parties must unite and force the Modi Govt to reverse its anti-people policies which are solely responsible for price rise, particularly the unprecedented rise in prices of petrol and diesel. However, the Congress cannot be the umbrella under which all Opposition parties are comfortable."

The party added: "Congress has to shun its big brother and unreasonable attitude towards other parties. No political party in India is subservient to Congress & it must bear this fact in mind. In principle, the AAP today lent its in-principle support to the protest against the rising prices of petrol, diesel and LPG. However, this should not be in any manner seen as support for Congress."

The AAP had supported the Congress-backed candidates for President and Vice-President, but relations had soured over failed seat-share attempts for the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul's attack on the AAP for a dharna inside the lieutenant-governor's office over non-cooperation of bureaucrats and the AAP's abstention from the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson's election.

"Our leaders went to Rajghat and Ramlila Maidan because several Opposition parties came together. Atishi went to Sansad Marg as we are indebted to the steadfast support of the Left, especially when the CM was on dharna at the LG's office," a source said.

"The Congress in Delhi has taken the BJP's line on most issues including the disqualification of MLAs - where its national leadership was questioning the role of the Election Commission."

AAP MLA Somnath Bharti, who was seated behind Rahul at Ramlila Maidan, told The Telegraph: "We did not need to call for a bandh as the nation has been bandh for the last four years with businesses being destroyed and employment zero.... We will support any movement by anybody trying to protect national interest. All the parties on stage were committed to defeating the Modi government. When all parties - even those inimical to us - come together, it brings out what we are trying to explain in clear language that people understand."