CPI(M) to protest price hike; asks to contain inflation

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New Delhi, Mar 9 (UNI) Accusing the UPA Government of failure to check the price rice of essential commodities and inflation, the CPI(M) today threatened sit-in protest in front of Parliament and called for strategy to overcome these problems.

Asking the Government to restore the 139 lakh ton cut in foodgrains allocation to the states under the Public Distribution System (PDS) and roll back of fuel price hike, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said, ''The government has failed to take appropriate steps to check exorbitant price rise of all essential commodities. So therefore we have decided to hold a sit-in demonstration in front of Parliament on March 18.'' Talking to newspersons after party's central committee meeting here, Mr Karat said the party units in various parts of the country had also been asked to organise similar sit-in demonstrations.

He said the Union Budget had failed to address the problems of inflation and price rise. The wholesale Price Index had gone up over 5 per cent. The headline inflation rate for the week ending February 23 rose to 5.02 per cent, compared to its previous week's level of 4.89 per cent.

Mr Karat said the party's central committee had asked the government to reverse the price rise in petrol and diesel by cutting customs and excise duties, impose ban on futures trading in agricultural commodities as proposed by the standing committee of Parliament.

The Left party also called for stringent action against hoardings.

''Our party has been agitating on the issue of cut in foodgrains in Kerala for a long time as there was over 82 per cent cut in the allocations of foodgrains there. The price hike in foodgrains was badly affecting the lives of the poor,'' he said.

Talking about the hate campaign against north Indians in Maharashtra by the Maharashra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Shiv Sena, the CPI (M) said it was against the unity and integrity of the country and the state government should not adopt ''soft attitude'' towards the disruptive forces.

''The BJP leadership, which has criticised such activities, continues to ally with the Shiv Sena. This exposes their hypocritical stance,'' Mr Karat said.

Touching upon the Women's Reservation Bill, the CPI(M) General Secretary said so far they had not heard anything from the government that it wanted to bring in the legislation.

The left party also asked the government to stop the closure of the Hyderabad and Bangalore airports which were under the Airports Authority of India.

''The decision to close these airports was taken in view of the new private airports being opened outside both the cities,'' he said adding that the government should act on the recommendations of the standing committee that both the old airports should function because of the rising volume of the traffic.

UNI KSA SK RAI2004

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