Updated: February 26, 2021 4:44:11 am
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday commuted on an electric scooter to and from the ‘Nabanna’ — the state secretariat — in protest against the rising fuel prices, saying “charity begins at home”.
While she rode pillion from Hazra More to the secretariat, a distance of seven km, in the morning, she was at the driver’s seat during her return commute to Kalighat in the evening. In the first leg, Banerjee was seen sitting behind state minister Firhad Hakim. Anti-fuel price hike placards were hanging from their necks. Wearing helmet, Banerjee waved at people on both sides of the road.
“The TMC will continue its vehement protest. Charity begins at home. That’s why I took this journey on the battery operated scooter. I’m speaking from outside the Secretariat gate because I’m making a political statement,” she said after reaching the secretariate.
“I rode on an e-scooter to protest the manner in which petrol, diesel and LPG prices are rising… A middle-class household needs two LPG cylinders a month which they can’t afford now. Over 1 crore people in our state also depend on kerosene which they are not getting now,” she said.
The chief minister was followed by security personnel on two-wheelers and other vehicles at a distance. There was tight security along the Hazra-Exide-AJC Bose Road-Vidyasagar Setu route.
Petrol prices in some states have breached the Rs 100 mark. Poll-bound West Bengal has offered a VAT cut of Re 1 on petrol and diesel.
Banerjee also criticised the BJP government for renaming the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad after Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The way they are changing the names of stadiums, who knows they might change the name of the country in the coming days,” she said.
She said the TMC will launch a campaign against fuel price rise from Friday. “The BJP had promised free LPG connections to the people before coming to power and now they are hiking its price… Modi and Shah are selling the country. They are selling the profit-making PSUs. This is an anti-people, anti-woman, anti-youth and anti-farmer government,” the TMC chief said.
— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2021
The Opposition parties, however, called her protest an “election stunt”. “The CM is resorting to novel theatrics ahead of the elections, but the state government is not doing its bit to reduce fuel prices,” BJP leader Jai Prakash Majumder said. BJP president Dilip Ghosh said it was “nothing but an election drama”.
Congress state president Adhir Chowdhury termed her protest an “e-drama”. Congress Legislature Party leader Abdul Mannan said, “This is nothing but an election stunt. Why is the state government not substantially withdrawing cess to blunt the effect of the fuel price hike to help the common man?”
Left Front leader Sujan Chakraborty compared her fuel hike protest with her pillion ride on a motorcycle ridden by former PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato during the Lalgarh agitation. “Banerjee had ridden pillion on Chhatradhar Mahato’s motorcycle in the Jangalmahal region before coming to power in the state. But later, people of that region witnessed TMC’s intimidation and terror,” he said.
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