Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Saturday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for an immediate rollback of the hike in the Central Excise duty on diesel.
“Any increase in the price of diesel will have a cascading effect on food prices as well as prices of other essential commodities,” Mr Karunanidhi said, in similar letters to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Congress leader, adding that the rollback of the hike in the duty on diesel would protect farmers and the common man.
[In the Union Budget, it had been proposed to restore the basic duty of 5 per cent on crude petroleum; 7.5 per cent on diesel and petrol and 10 per cent on other refined products. Also, the Central Excise duty on petrol and diesel would go up by Re.1 per litre each].
Referring to the announcement of increase in the duty rates of petrol and diesel, he pointed out that the Centre and the States were grappling with the issue of high food inflation rate in the recent months.
The Chief Minister congratulated them and the Centre for presenting a “very good” Budget, keeping in mind the objectives of the United Progressive Alliance to ensure inclusive growth and overall economic development.
Another ally of the UPA Trinamool Congress on Saturday launched street protests here to demand immediate rollback of fuel price hike, but remained non—committal on BJP’s move to bring cut motions to censure the government.
“Let us see the development and we will act as the situation develops,” TC’s Chief Whip in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandhopadhay, who led the protests, told PTI when asked whether the party would support BJP’s cut motion.
Mr. Bandhopadhay, whose party faces civic and municipal polls in West Bengal in May—June, said “in the backdrop of the overall price rise, it is not the appropriate time to increase fuel prices.
“When the budget will be debated we will express our annoyance against the fuel price hike and tell how it will put more burden on the people already hit by soaring prices of essential commodities.”
“The government should not make it a prestige issue and rollback the hike. The government’s image will be enhanced in the eyes of the people if it rolls back the price hike,” the TC chief whip said.
He further said the fuel price hike will have “a cascading effect” on food prices and the Mamata Banerjee—led party will not support it.
The budgetary proposal on hike in central excise duty on petrol and diesel and all non-petroleum products has already sparked a demand for a rollback from another UPA ally, the DMK.