The Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) kicked off agitation against hike in petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG prices, here on Saturday.

The PRP president Chiranjeevi participated in a sit-in organised in front of the Sub-Collector's office, and announced that his party would agitate until the government rolled back the hike.

“Some people may charge that the hike in petroleum price is being politicised. But, this is heartbeat of the common man, who faces the brunt of hike,” he said, addressing the gathering. Criticising the Centre for hiking petrol prices at a time when the prices of essential commodities is hitting the roof, Mr. Chiranjeevi said: “This government is not interested in the least in the welfare of the common man.”

Petrol and diesel will cost up to Rs. 3.73 per litre more, households will have to pay an additional Rs. 35 per cylinder and poor man's cooking medium kerosene will be dearer by Rs. 3 a litre. The decision of the UPA government to effect a steep rise in the prices of petroleum products was a cruel blow against the people who are already suffering due to the runaway increase in the prices of food and essential commodities. Instead of providing relief to the common man, the government is bent upon taking the petroleum prices to new heights which clearly is ‘an anti-people policy', he said.

As the hike would have a cascading effect on prices of all essential commodities, the Centre should roll back the prices; alternatively the State government should provide subsidy on gas and kerosene by shouldering the burden of rise in prices, he said.

Lambasting the government for making “false arguments”, to justify the measure, Mr. Chiranjeevi said the government's contention that increase in prices of petrol and diesel was due to hike in international prices was incorrect.

The government increased the petrol prices when a barrel was sold at $ 135-140 a barrel.

Despite the fact that the price of crude oil has come down to $ 75 a barrel, the government increased the prices, he pointed out.

Later, he submitted a memorandum to Sub-Collector K. Dharma Reddy urging the government to roll back the prices. Vijayawada (West) MLA Velampalli Srinivas, Vijayawada (East) MLA Yelamanchili Ravi, former MLAs Booragadda Vedavyas and Vangaveeti Radhakrishna, PRP district president Dhanekula Murali and others were present.

Earlier, they staged a protest by travelling on a bullock cart with a car steering, and cooked food on country stove using firewood. Mr. Chiranjeevi walked down from Tummalapalli Kalakshetram to Sub- Collector's office.

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