Left warns grim situation on price front helping BJP

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New Delhi, Apr 30 (UNI) Irked by the government's refusal to accede to their six-point charter of demands to curb spiralling inflation, the Left parties today warned that BJP is bound to take" political advantage" of the grave situation on the price front.

In a sharp reaction to the government's ''cosmetic measures'' in price war, the top leaders of the CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc told UNI that the Left parties will commence a countrywide picketing campaign and court arrests from tomorrow to force the government to change its policy.

Left leaders' announcement came a day after the Reserve Bank of India hiked the Cash Reserve Ratio, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to industry to show restraint and not abuse market power and hold the price line and Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced a slew of inflation management measures like slashing of import duties on skimmed milk powder and steel, and imposing export duty on various steel products to increase domestic availability of the items.

CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said the Left parties yesterday staged a walkout in Parliament as the Finance Minister totally failed in addressing their concerns over price rise." The so called slew of new measures to check inflation are" cosmetic".

Mr Chidambaram announced duty change of structure of steel, cement and skimmed milk powder, but refused to yeild to the demand to withdraw the recent hike in petroleum and diesel that actually had a cascading effect on prices of all essential commodities, the CPI leaders said.

'' Signifiantly he has no word on banning futures trading in foodgrains and other essential items, dehoarding hoarded stocks of corporate houses and other retail chains,'' they said.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe said the government's new efforts will not help bring down the prices of essential commodities. ''These are superficial.'' Mr Pandhe, who is also CITU president,stated that his party would renew its anti- price rise countrywide agitation from tomorrow which will inlude picketing and courting arrests.

Mr Bardhan, CPI General Secretary, said it appeared that the government is not at all serious about containing inflation, which continued over 7 per ent for the fourth consecutive week. The government's insistance on carrying forward the new liberal economic policies will further burden the people, he added.

Mr Faizi, CPI national Secretary, said his party will also hold a fortnight long anti-price rise agitation beginning from tomorrow.

Forward Bloc national Secretary G Devrajan said his party would hold anti-price rise agitation in all the 19 districts of Kerala.

''We have already begun the agitation from today.'' The Left leaders said earlier the government forwarded the argument that inflation is a global phenomena and now it is passing the buck to the state governments.

The government's ''mishandling'' of the issue was benefitting the saffron party, which the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister did not know, Mr Pandhe added.

Mr Devrajan said the government was not accepting the ''concrete suggestions'' of the Left which simply showed it had ''committed'' to the corporate houses, traders and hoarders not to check price rise at the expense of people's interests.

UNI KSA RP DS1526

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