DMK president M. Karunanidhi on Sunday expressed displeasure over the rise in the price of petroleum products, saying that instead of seeking to explain away the hike every time, the Centre was duty-bound to find a permanent solution to the problem of rising international oil prices.

In a statement here, Mr. Karunanidhi also wanted the States, including Tamil Nadu, to emulate the announcement made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that her government would provide Rs. 16 as subsidy per gas cylinder.

“Ms. Banerjee's announcement is worth emulating and the Tamil Nadu government should reduce the sales tax on diesel besides providing subsidy to gas cylinders,” Mr. Karunanidhi said.

He also recalled how the DMK government bore part of the burden of the people by reducing the sales tax on diesel and providing subsidy for gas cylinders when the Centre increased the price of petroleum products in the past.

Mr. Karunanidhi, whose DMK is part of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre, said the increase of Rs. 50 in the price of cooking gas, Rs 3 in the price of diesel and Rs 2 in the price of kerosene had severely affected the poor and the middle class. He said the DMK government had ensured that the poor were not affected by the increase in the price of essential commodities by reducing the price of rice from Rs 3.50 to Rs 2 after assuming office in 2006.

Subsequently it introduced Re 1-per-kg rice scheme in 2008 on the occasion of the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai.

It also sold 10 condiments for Rs 50 through public distribution system, besides selling vegetables through co-operative societies and introducing a special Public Distribution Scheme to sell pulses and fortified wheat flour through ration shops.