Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam began an indefinite hunger strike in Mumbai today to demand that power tariff be reduced in the city. Earlier this week, electricity prices were cut by nearly 20% across Maharashtra, except in Mumbai.Mr Nirupam is holding his protest fast outside the Kandivali West office of Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Energy, the power company that provides electricity in his Mumbai North constituency. “I am fasting as all other doors before us are closed,” he said today. Last Monday, he and MP Priya Dutt led hundreds of Congress workers in a protest at the same spot.
Mr Nirupam and Ms Dutt, who represents the North West constituency in Mumbai, have been demanding a reduction in electricity tariff like the one announced by the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi. Their party, the Congress, leads the coalition government in Maharashtra. Reliance Energy says reduction in power tariff is the prerogative of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission or MERC. The company has forwarded the MPs’ demand to the Maharashtra government, which has already formed a committee to look into the matter.Last month, Mr Nirupam had written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan threatening a mass agitation if electricity rates were not cut. He has alleged that the MERC “is not transparent and dances to the tunes of private power companies to benefit them.”Besides Reliance Energy, BEST, a government supplier, and Tata Power also provide electricity in Mumbai.