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Lower tax, excise duty before hiking petrol price: Karat

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CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat addressing party workers at the 19th State conference in Madurai on Thursday.
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat addressing party workers at the 19th State conference in Madurai on Thursday.

Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will not allow the Centre to increase prices of petroleum products unless it revised the exorbitant tax and excise duty levied on them, general secretary Prakash Karat said on Thursday.

“The government should not pass on the burden of increase in price of crude oil in international market, when the people are [already] suffering [due to the spiralling prices of essential commodities],” he said addressing a public meeting organised in connection with the party’s 19th State conference here.

The Centre had already imposed one of the highest tax rates on petroleum products. “Tax and excise duty formed a big portion of retail price. Unless it revises the tax, we are not for any increase in petrol price,” Mr. Karat said.

He warned the Centre that it would have to face a nationwide protest movement, if it went ahead with its plan to increase the prices.

However, Mr. Karat assured the United Progressive Alliance government that as long as the Left parties were with it, they would not do anything that would help the Bharatiya Janata Party come back to power. “The government will complete its full term till May 2009.”

BJP leader L.K. Advani’s remark that his party would make “every other State like Gujarat means that minorities will be treated like second-class citizens without any rights,” Mr. Karat said. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Tamil Nadu at the invitation of All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Jayalalithaa symbolised a communal alliance in the State, he said.

Call to DMK

Making a fervent appeal to secular forces to unite to see that the communal forces did not flourish in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Karat urged the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to take a lead role in the effort.

The CPI(M) wanted to forge an alliance with secular and democratic forces that agreed to take on communalism, adopted pro-people economic policies and supported an independent foreign policy against U.S. imperialism.

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