Opposition parties: roll back hike in prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas

Opposition parties on Saturday protested the steep hike in the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. Demanding its rollback, the parties charged the Congress-led UPA government with dealing a blow to the common man in whose name it came to power.

Street protests erupted in various parts of the country and supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party and other parties raised slogans demanding a rollback. Demonstrations were held in Orissa, Lucknow, Noida, Jammu and Srinagar, among other places.

The BJP said the measure reflected the insensitivity of the government to the plight of the people and said it would push the rate of inflation into double digit.

Party spokesman Shahnawaz Husain said the statements by Union Ministers justifying the rise in prices showed that the government was more concerned with the health of oil companies than the people who were already groaning under the impact of high prices of essential commodities.

The BJP, he said, was seeking to wake up the government and caution it not to joke with the people. On her part, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said this was the 10{+t}{+h} hike in the prices of petroleum products since the UPA government came to power. “The victims are housewives, farmers and the poorest of the poor.”

Condemning the decision, the Left parties demanded that the hike be withdrawn and asked all their units to immediately conduct hartals, demonstrations and other protest actions.

In a joint statement, general secretaries Prakash Karat (Communist Party of India-Marxist), A.B. Bardhan (Communist Party of India), T.J. Chandrachoodan (Revolutionary Socialist Party) and Debabrata Biswas (All-India Forward Bloc) said the UPA government struck another cruel blow to the people by increasing the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas at a time when the people were reeling under all-round price rise and the inflation rate had crossed 9 per cent.

The diesel price increase would push up transportation cost and affect farmers as well. The increase in the price of kerosene by Rs. 2 a litre would be an added burden to the poor. The Rs. 50 increase for a gas cylinder would also burden the common people.

“The withdrawal of 5 percentage points in customs duty on crude oil, which was imposed last year, shows how such taxes are levied by the Centre to raise revenue and this is the main cause for the high prices of petroleum products,” it said.

More In: National | News