The Central government on Sunday justified the increase in fuel prices and ruled out any rollback, even as the Left parties and the National Democratic Alliance called separately for a nationwide bandh for Monday.

Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora has termed the bandh call “totally unjustified.” In an apparent reference to the NDA, he said “these parties” were instrumental in notifying the deregulation of the prices of petroleum products and reducing subsidies, “therefore the bandh call is not only unjustified but is also against the interests of the common people and daily wagers…”

Describing the kerosene price increase of Rs. 3 a litre as “marginal,” Mr. Deora said it translated into an increase of just 50 paise a day a family. “The hike of Rs. 35 a LPG cylinder means an increase of less than Re. 1 a day a family. Therefore, the impact of the increase on the common man … is negligible.”

Mr. Deora said the public sector oil marketing companies increased the price of diesel by Rs. 2 a litre, “and are still bearing with the under-recovery of more than Rs. 1.50 paise a litre in the interest of consumers.” The decontrol of petrol price led to an increase of just Rs. 3.50 a litre.

The recent increase in the prices of petroleum products would have a “marginal impact” on the rate of inflation, he said, renewing his appeal to the States to “rationalise” the taxes on petroleum products.

However, the increase will have a cascading effect on inflation, which has already been ruling high. Though the wholesale price index inflation dropped to 12.92 per cent in the week ending June 19, food inflation has been in double digit for several months. The retail prices of pulses, wheat, rice and sugar have reached unprecedented levels in the past six months.

On Sunday, Mother Dairy and Amul, premier milk manufacturing companies, increase the milk price up to Rs. 2 a litre.

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