Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday described as unjustifiable the Centre's argument that the increase in crude price in the international market and fall of the rupee led to the latest hike in petrol price. She demanded withdrawal of the hike.

The announcement would cause unbearable burden to the poor and the middle class. It would upset the monthly budget of the people who depended on two-wheelers and cars, she said in a statement. “Moreover, private operators will increase the fare of transport vehicles. On the whole, it will not only reduce the buying capacity of the poor and middle class, but will also lead to further decline in the country's economy,” she said.

“Wrong policies”

Ms. Jayalalithaa warned that people's misery would bring down the Congress-led government soon. She alleged that the parlous state of the economy, rising inflation and the fall of the rupee could be directly linked to the wrong economic policies pursued by the Centre.

“The increase of Rs. 7.50 in petrol price has come as a prize to the people when the Congress-led UPA government has completed three years in office,” she said.

Ms. Jayalalithaa rejected the argument that the price of crude in the international market had made it inevitable for the government to increase the price, saying the crude requirement was not met only through imports.

“Crude oil is also produced in the country and placing it on a par with imported oil is unjustifiable. Instead of taking measures to arrest the fall in the value of Indian currency against the U.S. dollar, increasing the petrol price is condemnable,” she said.