Opposition parties have lambasted the government for the Rs.5 a litre hike in petrol price, terming it a “cruel blow” to people who were already reeling under soaring prices of all essential commodities. Demanding immediate roll back of the hike, all major Opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and Left parties, have threatened to organise demonstrations across the country against the Centre's “anti-people” policies.

In a joint statement issued on Sunday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the All India Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party of India alleged that the steep hike in petrol price immediately after the Assembly polls was “politically motivated.”

“Since January 2011 [when global crude prices went up], no increase in petrol price was announced by the oil companies. Obviously, the government directed them not to do so in view of the Assembly elections in five States,” the statement said. Signed by general secretaries of the CPI(M), CPI and AIFB Prakash Karat, A.B. Bardhan and Debabrata Biswas respectively and RSP secretary Abani Roy, it said the government has given another “cruel blow” to the people who were already suffering from all-round price rise.

Demanding rationalisation of the tax structure on import of crude, the leaders said, “If the cess revenue earned by the government due to rise in international crude prices is returned to the oil companies, then there would be no need to hike prices and burden the aam admi.”

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has warned that the fuel price hike would further increase inflation.

“This hike will further hit the people who are already suffering from price rise,” said BJP national vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the government that harped on being with the ‘aam admi' was continuously betraying the people. “This is a joke on people.” The BJP has decided to organise protests here and in other States on Monday.

Regional parties like the Samajwadi Party on Sunday organised demonstrations in various cities of Uttar Pradesh.

Atiq Khan reports from Lucknow:

Describing the petrol price hike as an “anti-people” measure, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati said a daylong demonstration would be held by the BSP at all the 72 district headquarters on May 31.

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