UPA fuel price hike move forces parliament adjournment

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New Delhi, July 2 (ANI): The UPA Government and the opposition on Thursday traded charges over the fuel price hike on the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament.

Non-Congress parties, including UPA allies DMK and Trinamool Congress, slammed the hike and demanded a roll back. The government, however, refused to budge on the issue.

The issue was raised in the House as soon as it met. Leading the protest were the Samajwadi Party and Left parties. Members from BJP, Shiv Sena, RJD, BSP and TDP joined them.

The furore forced two adjournments during Question Hour. The House was later adjourned for the day when it met after the lunch recess.

Prior to the last adjournment, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora rejected the demands for roll back and said the suggestions would be considered "suitably" if there is a fall in international crude prices.

"In view of the continuous rise in global crude prices, a marginal increase had become unavoidable," he argued and said the petrol price was raised by "only" Rs.4 against Rs.6.9 as desired and diesel price by "only" Rs.2 against Rs.4.11 "keeping in mind the interests of 'aam aadmi' (common man)."

He said the government for which the projected subsidy burden amounted to Rs 30,000 crore did not increase the retail prices of PDS kerosene and LPG.

Earlier, the House witnessed uproar over the hike.

DMK member T R Baalu was strident in his criticism.

"This government is not a unitary government but is supported by DMK and Trinamool Congress. It (hike in prices) is not at all good. It should have been discussed with party leaders as also in the Cabinet," Baalu said.

"I strongly condemn the act. It should not recur. I am saying this as a close friend of Congress," he said, adding that it was "nowhere justifiable" as the action has come a day before the Budget Session was to start.

He said: "It is an alarming situation that the government headed by Manmohan Singh and supported by Sonia Gandhi and 'Kazhaignar' (Karunanidhi) (is) taking such decision...(it) is not at all good. It should have been at least discussed with party leaders, if not in Cabinet."

Trinamool member Sudip Bandopadhyay said the decision should be revoked.

"We understand that international crude prices have gone up. But this (price rise) will affect common people," he said.

Accusing the government of "violating parliamentary propriety", BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said the move to hike petrol and diesel prices "raises suspicion as to which companies will be benefited by this decision."

"The government has been saying that the public sector oil companies have been making profits and giving dividends to it. Then why this secrecy," she asked.

Akali Dal's Rattan Singh Ajnala said the new government had given a "big gift" to the people on the first day of the budget session.

Independent member Inder Singh Namdhari said about 3,000 farmers of Palamau in Jharkhand had written to the President seeking permission to commit suicide because government has done nothing to save them from the drought conditions prevailing in the region for the past three years.

"You have only added salt to their injury by increasing diesel prices," he said.

Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete, M Thambidurai (AIADMK), Narahari Mahato (Forward Bloc) and Shailendra Kumar (SP) demanded immediate withdrawal of the hike. (ANI)

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