Activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yuva Morcha, Udupi Zilla Nagarika Samiti, and the Udupi division of Insurance Employees' Union staged protests here on Thursday against the hike in petrol.

Addressing morcha activists, Raghupati Bhat, MLA, said that the increase in petrol would affect the common man hard. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had failed to control inflation and prices of petroleum products.

Mismanagement of the nation's economy by the UPA government was responsible for the hike in petrol price. The Centre should rollback the hike. Udupi-Chikmagalur MP K. Jayaprakash Hegde should raise the issue of the petrol hike in the Lok Sabha. The petrol price hike was UPA's gift to voters. Compared to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's management of economy, the UPA's track-record was pathetic, Mr. Bhat said.

BJP leaders Udaykumar Shetty, Mattar Ratnakar Hegde, Yashpal Suvarna, P. Vilas Nayak, and Kiran Kumar were present.

Members of the Udupi Zilla Nagarika Samiti took out a procession from Taluk Office to Service Bus-Stand. General secretary of the samiti Nityananda Volakadu said it was impossible for the poor and middle-class to bear the burden of the hike in petrol price. Workers would be the worst affected.

If the UPA government did not rollback the hike, the samiti would intensify its struggle, he said.

Members of the samiti Prabhakar Acharya, Raghavendra Shet, Jayaprakash Acharya, Umesh Bantakal and Satish Nayak were present. Members of the Insurance Employees' Union staged a demonstration in front of the LIC Divisional Office. Addressing them, general secretary of the union U. Gurudath said that there was no substance in the government's argument that owing to devaluation of rupee against the dollar, oil companies had to pay more to crude oil. Hence, a hike in petrol price was inevitable. On the contrary, owing to the crisis in European Union and the U.S., the dollar was losing ground. To help the U.S. overcome the crisis, the Indian government was unnecessarily devaluing the rupee though it had a favourable trade balance. Deregulation of petroleum prices led to price hikes by oil companies, Mr. Gurudath said.

In Mangalore

Workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) staged protests in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner in Mangalore condemning the hike in petrol price.

They urged the Union government to roll back the hike immediately.

In a memorandum to the President, which was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, president of the Mangalore City South Assembly Constituency unit of the BJP Srikara Prabhu said that the government had increased the price of petrol unscientifically.

The hike was not justified. It was the result of the “wrong” economic policies of the Union government, he said.

He said that the hike had affected the people. The government was justifying its action in the guise of the fall in price of rupee. There was an international-level conspiracy behind the hike in fuel price, he alleged.

B. Madhava, secretary of the district unit of the CPI (M), who addressed party workers, condemned the hike in petrol price. He attributed the hike to the “wrong” economic policies of the Union government.

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