The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will conduct a Statewide agitation on November 28 to protest the hike in the price of ‘Aavin' milk, bus fare and the proposed hike in electricity tariff announced by the State government, G. Ramakrishnan, Tamil Nadu State Secretary of the CPI (M), said on Friday.

Talking to newspersons, Mr. Ramakrishnan said it is not proper for the government to hike the prices of milk, bus fare or electricity tariff, citing the loss suffered by the respective public sector undertakings or organisations, as they are service-oriented. The government, which is looking at the budget of these organisations, should also look into the budget of the common people, he said.

People are angry with the government for price rise and proposal to hike the electricity tariff. Power generation in the State in 2001 was 7513 MW, which was short of requirement by 300 MW. Today, the installed capacity of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation is 10,214 MW as against the State's requirement of 11,500 MW, pointing to a wide gap between supply and demand. The AIADMK and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam governments, which were ruling the State alternately for the last 10 years have failed to focus attention on increasing power generation in Tamil Nadu. The Union government has granted the power to determine the prices of petrol to the oil companies, and now the Prime Minister has said that the prices of diesel too should be de-regulated, Mr. Ramakrishnan said.

The CPI (M) would take steps to form a joint movement comprising secular parties to protect people against policies and decisions of the Central and State governments, which affected the people. While one of the two major parties in Tamil Nadu, the DMK, was a member of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, the other major party was ruling Tamil Nadu. Therefore, a joint movement comprising secular parties is necessary to fight the anti-people policies and decisions of both the Central and State governments, he said.

Another decision of the Union government which is going to affect the people badly is its recent decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail trade. The value of retail trade in India is U.S. 430 billion. That is why the foreign companies are eyeing the retail trade in India. Eight crore families in India would be affected by the decision of the Centre to allow FDI in retail trade in India, he said.

Asked to comment on the challenge posed by Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam leader Vijayakant to AIADMK general secretary Jayalalitha whether she was prepared to face the electorate now, Mr. Ramakrishnan said it is only six months since the Assembly elections were held, the local body elections were completed just now, and the Parliament elections are two-and-a-half years away. Under these circumstances, not much should be read into Mr. Vijayakant's statement except to reflect the DMDK stand to oppose the wrong decisions of the AIADMK government, he said. The CPI (M), on May 15, a day prior to the AIADMK government assuming office, announced its decision to function as a constructive Opposition party. “As far as the CPI (M) is concerned, it will welcome the good decisions of the government and oppose the wrong ones,” he said, adding, “the dismissal of 13,000 Makkal Nala Paniyalargal and the decision of the government to shift the Anna Centenary Library are unnecessary.”