Trinamool to hold protest rallies against petrol price hike

Kolkata/New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Trinamool Congress chiefMamata Banerjee today came out strongly against the hike inpetrol prices, saying she was not consulted by the Centre onthe issue even as CPI-M, BJP and other parties pilloried theGovernment for working against the interests of the commonman.

"Maybe, we are part of an ally which is in power at theCentre. But we did not know (about the price hike)," she toldreporters in Kolkata.

Banerjee said Trinamool Congress workers would holdprotest rallies at every block in the state tomorrow againstthe price rise.

Stating that the common man was put in difficulty byrising prices, she said, "We are always with the people. Thatis why, I have not increased railway fares."

Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandopadhyay said althoughBanerjee had met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee atthe Kolkata airport, the decision on hiking the petrol priceswas not communicated to her.

In Delhi, the BJP described as totally unjustified thesecond steep hike in prices within a month.

"This cruel price rise of petrol, the second big pricerise in a span of a month, is totally unjustified. We demandan immediate rollback of prices of petrol products," said BJPspokesman Prakash Javadekar.

The CPI(M) described called the Centre''s decision toraise petrol prices "callous" and called upon its variousunits to launch immediate protest against the hike.

"The Politburo calls upon all its party units toimmediately protest the callous hike," CPI(M)''s highestpolicy-making body, on a two-day meeting in Kolkata, said in astatement.

State-owned oil companies had on Saturday raised petrolprices by Rs. 2.50 - Rs. 2.54 per litre, the second hike in amonth, on the back of rising crude oil prices..

BJP described spiralling prices in general as "failure of the economist Prime Minister" and the food and petrol pricehike as a "Congress conspiracy" against the common man.

"When the world is witnessing a stable price regime andfood prices are actually going down in most parts, India isexperiencing a turbulent price regime because of lack ofcohesive policy on part of the UPA," said Javadekar.

"In the name of de-control, it is actually the cartel ofoil companies which is raising the prices under governmentprotection", he alleged.

Mocking at the government for being in a state of "policyparalysis" and having "lack of political will and vision",he said, "Sharad Pawar says he is responsible for pricerise of only five items. Rahul Gandhi held coalition politicsresponsible for price rise, DMK feels it is a natural calamityand the PM gives his usual promises of stabilising prices innext two months".

"The BJP demands a rollback in the petrol price hike. Wewant government to come out with a special action plan totackle both these issues", he said.

Slamming the government over spiralling prices, CPI(M)leader Prakash Karat said, "It is allowing forward trading infood commodities. What is government doing on sugar, food,petro prices? The question is the culpable responsibility ofGovernment as far as price rise is concerned."

Defending the government''s decision, the Congress partysaid that the UPA was adopting the same mechanism devised bythe former NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"Fuel prices are decided by a mechanism in which when theprices of petroleum products in the international market areup then the prices in India go up and when they are downglobally, they are less in India too," Congress leaderRajiv Shukla said.

He said the UPA was only following the same pattern,method, formula devised by the NDA government on this issue.

In Patna, the ruling Janata Dal (U) lashed out at theCentre for aggravating inflation and price rise.

"The people were already feeling the pinch of theprice rise, but the latest increase in the petroleum pricesis bound to aggravate the woes of the common people," JD(U)General Secretary Javed Mehmood said.

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