West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday led a “padayatra [foot march]” in the state’s Siliguri city to protest against the increase in prices of fuel and cooking gas, PTI reported.
Several protestors, most of whom were women, joined the rally holding red-coloured cardboard replicas of Liquified Petroleum Gas cylinders. Banerjee was joined by minister Chandrima Bhattacharya, and party MPs Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan.
The march, which began from Darjeeling More crossed Mahananda Bridge, which is at the heart of Siliguri, according to NDTV.
On March 1, prices of LPG cylinders were increased by Rs 25, just four days after the previous rise, pushing the cost to Rs 819 in Delhi. Meanwhile, frequent increases in fuel prices have pushed the cost of petrol to over Rs 100 per litre in some cities.
Speaking at the rally on Sunday, Banerjee hit back at allegations of extortion levelled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, and other Opposition parties against the ruling Trinamool Congress.
“You are the biggest extortionist [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji,” Banerjee said. “Isn’t it extortion to sell of railways, oil [companies], SAIL [Steel Authority of India Limited], Coal India?”
She also countered allegations against the Trinamool leaders of building nexus for earning commissions, which have been popularly come to be known as “syndicate” in West Bengal. “India knows only syndicate, that of Narendra Modi and [Union Home Minister] Amit Shah,” Banerjee said.
The West Bengal Chief Minister then used one of Trinamool’s popular election slogans, “Khela Hobe” (it’s game on), challenging the prime minister, ahead of elections in the state.
“Khela hobe,” she said. “Tell me when will you come for a one-to-one. You decide the date and time. The people will be there. Let’s see how much you can play, and how much I can.”
The elections to the 294 seats in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. The results will be declared on May 2. The state will see a three-cornered fight between the Trinamool Congress, the BJP and an alliance between Left parties, Congress and the Indian Secular Front.