It will deliver 10 crore signatures to President Pratibha Patil

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday not only objected to the increase in the prices of petroleum products announced by the Centre but also threatened that it would take the issue to the streets through a country-wide agitation.

The party promised to deliver 10 crore signatures to President Pratibha Patil during the coming monsoon session of Parliament to emphasise the people's anger and helplessness over food inflation, which will go up further after the hike in the prices of petro products.

“Situation not right”

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said a policy decision to dismantle the government-administered price control mechanism for the oil sector was first implemented by the National Democratic Alliance government when Ram Naik was Petroleum Minister.

Mr. Javadekar justified the BJP's objection to bringing back the same policy initiative — which was done away with by the United Progressive Alliance government after it came to power in 2004 — on the plea that the current situation was not right for the policy change.

“Inflation is high and inflation in essential food items is higher [in double digits]. The NDA decision was taken at a time when inflation was low; the people could absorb the small changes in the prices of petrol, kerosene and diesel due to the policy change,” he added.

The party was also of the view that if petrol and diesel prices had to be increased, the government should have simultaneously cut taxes so that the common man would not have had to pay more.

However, asked whether BJP-ruled States would be willing to cut the taxes imposed by them, Mr. Javadekar said the price increase had been set off by the Centre, and it must lead the way in cutting taxes.

“The move is an assault on the people by the government. It has inflicted a deep wound on people already bleeding as a result of high inflation. The increase in petro product prices will have cascading effect on all prices, especially food items,” he added.

Mr. Javadekar said the price increase and decontrol of prices would help the “inefficient” oil public sector and allow the private sector to profiteer — at the expense of the man on the street.

More In: National | News