Left calls 12-hr Bengal bandh tomorrow to protest price hike

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Kolkata, Jun 4(UNI) In a swift move following the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and domestic LPG, the ruling Left Front in West Bengal today called a dawn-to-dusk statewide bandh tomorrow in protest against the UPA Government's 'anti-people' policy.

Announcing this, Left Front Chairman Biman Basu said the decision had been taken after the Centre turned down the repeated requests of Left parties to adopt an alternative policy to neutralise the effect of the price hike of petroleum in the international market.

''The Centre's decision will severely affect the common people.

We had repeatedly asked the Centre not to go for an increase in the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG in domestic market and instead follow an alternative policy, as we suggested, to spare the people,'' he said.

The government announced an increase of Rs 5 per litre in the retail price of petrol, Rs 3 for diesel and Rs 50 for the domestic LPG from midnight tonight, but left the PDS kerosene untouched.

The hikes, which would provide an additional revenue of Rs 21,123 crore for the beleagured oil marketing companies (OMCs), were approved at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Urging the people to support the bandh, the West Bengl Left Front Chairman said the decision of the Left parties had not been taken overnight as they had long been in the thick of a movement, staging demonstrations in Delhi and sending a deputation to the Prime Minister in this regard.

Supporting the Front's decision to go for a strike, CITU, the labour wing of the CPI(M) alleged that the Centre's move was 'indiscriminate and mindless'.

CITU State President Shyamal Chakraborty said the Centre was 'lying' in support of its action which in effect would benefit the private oil companies like Reliance and Essar.

UNI KDG PL RL AS1542

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