Plan to build on anti-government sentiment fuelled by petrol price hike

Seeking to build on the anti-government sentiment fuelled by the increase in petrol prices, the National Democratic Alliance has called a nationwide bandh for May 31.

The NDA's acting chairman and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani said the UPA government had run out of ideas on inflation management. The unprecedented increase would further add to the people's misery.

In New Delhi, NDA convener and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav rejected the government's contention that it was the oil marketing companies that took the call, as the pricing of petroleum products was de-regulated. He wanted to know why the increase was not announced when Parliament was in session and why the companies jacked up the prices a day after the budget session ended.

Both Mr. Advani and Mr. Yadav said the government's “gross mismanagement” of the economy caused the current mess.

Dubbing the UPA government pro-rich and anti-poor, Mr. Yadav said: “The government has washed its hands of the price increase, but it would happen only when the government wanted. The government will increase the prices of diesel and LPG also after the presidential election gets over.”

Protests will continue: Mamata

Kolkata Staff Reporter writes:

A day after criticising the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the petrol price increase and describing it as a unilateral decision, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said her party would continue its protests over the issue.

“Whatever I had to say I said it yesterday. We stick to what we say. Our party organised a procession against the hike today. The protests will continue,” she told journalists at the State Secretariat.

Opposition leaders had hit out at Ms. Banerjee's comments stating that “she is taking the people for a ride.”

Trinamool rally

The Trinamool, the second biggest constituent of the UPA government, staged a rally in protest against the petrol price increase. It was led by Railway Minister Mukul Roy.

Hundreds of Trinamool supporters, along with senior party leaders, walked a five kilometre stretch from Hazra in the south of the city to Mayo Road. They carried placards demanding a rollback of the hike.

Trinamool leader and Transport Minister Madan Mitra, who participated in the protests, said: “We are the most important ally of the UPA, but we have not been consulted. We cannot accept this burden on the common people.”

Meanwhile, other political parties also held demonstrations against the price rise.

Bharatiya Janata Party workers put up road blocks in the busy Esplanade Dharamtala area and at Howrah Bridge, while representatives of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) staged a demonstration outside Raj Bhavan.

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