New Delhi: The unprecedented hike in petrol prices has helped the Left and the Right to make common cause on Thursday for a nationwide protest, described by BJP and its allies as Bharat Bandh and by Left as All India Protest Day.

This is the second time that the BJP, Left and other non-Congress parties will be coordinating their agitations since the last Lok Sabha elections to give the impression of a wider Opposition unity on issues concerning people.

A similar agitation against petrol price hike had happened on July 5, 2010.

Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, which is supporting the UPA goverment from outside, has also given the bandh call on Thursday so has BJD in Odisha.

Amid indications that the Opposition has also attempted to rope in some UPA allies, which have strongly protested the hike, BJP President Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday asked parties like DMK- which has opposed the petrol price hike- to join the bandh on Thursday.

"The UPA government has increased petrol prices on 18 to 19 occasions. Now even the Rupee has fallen further. The situation is deteriorating in such a manner that we have reached the stage where we may have to pledge our gold again.

We would like all parties, opposed to the petrol hike, to join our protest," Gadkari told reporters.

DMK had threatened that it may think of withdrawing support to the Congress-led UPA government due to this petrol hike. However, later DMK Chief K Karunanidhi clarified that the party will oppose the move while staying within UPA.

NDA convener Sharad Yadav said the Opposition parties do not believe the statement of the government that it will not increase diesel and LPG prices.

"They are saying it because they are under pressure from the Opposition now. Their argument that the government has no role in petrol price hike is an eyewash. People's anger on the issue will be visible during the Bharat Bandh on Thursday.

Opposition is united on the issue," Yadav said.

Interestingly even as Mulayam Singh Yadav had attended the UPA's function to release its annual performance report card on May 22, his party is now organising a state bandh on May 31 that coincides with the agitation plan of the Opposition.

In a symbolic day-long protest against petrol hike, former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi and his partymen on Thursday also launched a campaign on foot in support of his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantric) candidate for the June 12 Hatia Assembly bye-election. Congress is in alliance with JVM (P) in Jharkhand.

(Agencies)

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