The six-hour Odisha bandh by the Left parties on Thursday against the hike in fuel prices evoked a mixed response. Activists of CPI, CPI(M), CPI(M-L) and Forward Bloc blocked roads and railway tracks in different parts of the state.
The protest disrupted train services at the Bhubaneswar railway station as the bandh supporters demonstrated on the tracks. All major markets and malls remained shut due to the bandh, which began at 6 am and continued till 12 pm. However, roadside shops were seen open in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
Many petrol pumps, banks, central and state government offices remained closed. However, the state secretariat operated with thin attendance, officials said. The state government made elaborate security arrangements across the state in view of the bandh. However, there was no report of any untoward incident, a senior police officer said.
Commuters faced inconvenience due to the blockade of major roads. Hundreds of vehicles, including trucks, remained stranded on the national highway in Bhubaneswar as members of the Left parties blocked roads at Acharya Vihar. CPI(M) leader Suresh Panigrahi said the people of Odisha supported the bandh spontaneously.
"The BJP-led government at the Centre and Odisha's BJD government should get a clear message that the common man has totally rejected their fuel price hike," he said. State Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said his party supported the bandh as a mark of protest against the fuel price hike.
BJP state general secretary P Harichandan said that the hike in fuel price is mostly due to a rise in the price of crude oil in the international market. "This apart, the Left and Congress leaders know that the Centre has been providing free COVID vaccines. Therefore, the price hike was required," he said.