New Delhi: The Congress party on Thursday announced a nationwide protest, Bharat Bandh, on Monday, over rising fuel prices. The party has also reached out to key Opposition parties to lend support to the programme.

“Everyone in the party has decided. Simultaneously we spoke to Opposition parties and a decision was taken to organise a nationwide Bharat Bandh on Monday. We will appeal to the common man to join us," said Ashok Gehlot, Congress’ general secretary in charge of the organisation.

The bandh, slated between 9AM and 3PM, will include symbolic dharnas (sit in) at petrol pumps. “This is the carelessness of the government that prices are increasing despite international prices going down…prices increased during UPA’s time also, but we took measures to contain it and give relief to people," according to Gehlot.

This is the first big pan-India ground campaign which the Congress party will run to take on the BJP government on the issue of fuel prices. The decision was taken after a meeting of top party leaders, including general secretaries, chiefs of state units and other senior functionaries.

“All the Opposition parties said they will join us. We also call upon all societal organisations, non-governmental organisations and all sections of society to join in the people’s movement demanding reduction of prices of petrol and diesel," said Randeep Surjewala, Congress’ chief spokesperson.

Senior party leader and newly elected treasurer Ahmed Patel said most Opposition parties had given their consent and consultations were still on. Trinamool Congress (TMC) has agreed to join the agitation, but they will not be a part of the call for Bharat Bandh.

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