Special Correspondent

Samajwadi party calls for strike on Tuesday

Minister writes to Pawar, Deora`5 per cent farm growth rate impossible'No plan to reduce trade tax: Bajpai

LUCKNOW: While the ruling Samajwadi Party here has called for a general strike this coming Tuesday in protest against the increase in diesel prices announced by the Union Government earlier this week, the State Government has demanded a 25 per cent subsidy on diesel used for agriculture purposes.

Agriculture Minister Ashok Bajpai told newspersons on Friday that he had sent separate letters to Union Agricultrure Minister Sharad Pawar and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora asking for subsidy on diesel used for farm purposes. Stating that he had demanded a 25 per cent subsidy, he said it should be patterned on similar subsidy given on kerosene and LPG.

He said the frequent increases in diesel prices had threatened to reduce agriculture to an unproductive occupation.

Mr. Bajpai said the cost of farm production goes up with each increase in diesel price. He said due to the frequent increases in the prices, it would be impossible to achieve the 5 per cent agriculture growth rate envisaged in the State's agriculture policy. The Minister, however, refused to reduce the trade tax on diesel which would automatically bring the diesel prices down. He said trade tax was the biggest source of revenue earnings for the State and added that the money earned thus was spent on development projects. "If this tax is reduced, the development process would suffer, " he added.

The trade tax component on sale of diesel in the State is 25 per cent, whereas on petrol it is 24 per cent.

RLD also to agitate

UNI adds: The major ruling party ally in the State, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), has also announced to hold demonstrations to protest hike in petro prices and said it would also ask the Mulayam Government to cut local taxes on fuel to help the common man.

The Jan Morcha Gathbandhan too has announced to hold agitations on June 13.