Against the steep increase in fuel prices

The Opposition parties on Tuesday gave a call for a nationwide strike on July 5 against the steep increase in the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene oil and cooking gas.

The Left parties announced a 12-hour dawn to dusk hartal that will be joined by six other political parties, while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance called a similar bandh that day.

Essential services such as water supply, milk, electricity, hospital and emergency services will be exempted from the 6.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. strike, the Left parties said.

In a joint statement, general secretaries of four Left parties, charged the Manmohan Singh-led government with delivering “another cruel blow'' to the people by increasing the prices of fuel, deregulating the petrol price and leaving it to the market.

The leaders said the move came after the government refused to take any effective steps to curb the prices of food items and essential commodities, causing acute suffering to people.

Inflation

On top of the high food inflation that stood at nearly 17 per cent and the double digit general inflation rate, the government callously raised the fuel prices, making the burden on the people unbearable “The government is putting forth deceptive arguments to justify the hike and refuses to listen to people's protests,” the leaders said.

The Left parties have consulted other Opposition parties, including the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Telugu Desam Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Indian National Lok Dal and decided to give the form of protest.

The signatories to the statement included Prakash Karat (CPI-M), A.B. Bardhan (CPI), Debabrata Biswas (AIFB) and T.J. Chandrachoodan (RSP).

Hours after the announcement, BJP President Nitin Gadkari issued a similar call. Around the same time, NDA convener and Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav gave a strike call.

In his statement, Mr. Gadkari said the government move was a “major betrayal of trust” of the common man by the UPA government, which came to power on the plank of addressing the concerns of “aam aadmi.”

“It seems that the Congress-led government has paid only lip-service to the common man and has been playing into the hands of the hoarders and racketeers.''

Mr. Yadav said he had spoken to leaders of various political parties, including the Left, the SP, the AIADMK, the INLD, the BJP, the BJD, the Akali Dal to stage a mass protest on the issue of fuel price hike.

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