By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, November 18, 2021: The ruling BJD in Odisha on Thursday announced its decision to intensify the agitation against the Centre over the rise in cooking gas prices, and gave call for a three-day state-wide protest from November 22.

BJD’s move comes amid intense agitation by opposition BJP and Congress over the woman teacher’s kidnap and murder in the Kalahandi district.

The BJD lashed out at the Centre, blaming it for raising the price of cooking gas cylinder by over 70 per cent during the last three and a half years.

The 14 kg LPG cylinder, which was available at Rs 549 in 2016-2017, has now touched Rs 928, an increase of nearly 70 per cent, BJD chief whip in the state assembly Pramila Mallick said.

“The Union Petroleum Minister himself has given this information in Parliament,” she said.

The BJD also claimed that the Centre’s ‘Ujjwala’ scheme has failed in the state with a drastic reduction in the number of cylinder refills due to the sharp rise in prices.

Though the Centre reduced duties on petrol and diesel, it did not consider the demand to cut the price of cooking gas, she said.

Therefore, the BJD has decided to protest against this unprecedented hike in cooking gas prices, she said.

All three frontal organisations of BJD – Biju Mahila Janata Dal, Biju Yuva Janata Dal and Biju Chhatra Janata Dal – will participate in the demonstrations, she said.

BJD members will hold dharna and demonstrations before the offices of three revenue divisional commissioners from November 22 to 24. Protests will also be organised at the block level, a party statement said.

However, BJP claimed that BJD planned to protest after being cornered by the opposition parties over the teacher’s death ahead of the local body polls in the state.

The opposition is demanding the removal of the Minister of State for Home D S Mishra for allegedly shielding the accused in the case.

“This is an attempt to divert public attention from the main issue of crime against women and the ruling party’s role in shielding the accused persons. The Narendra Modi government is aware of the people’s plight and it has reduced the prices of petrol and diesel,” BJP spokesperson Pitamber Acharya said.

The BJP has also begun a signature campaign to garner support for its demand of Mishra’s removal. The collected signatures will be sent to the President, party leaders said.

Congress MLA Suresh Routray said his party will continue the agitation, demanding justice for the Kalahandi teacher till the panchayat polls if Mishra is not removed.

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