Left activists take to streets, demand hike revision
New Delhi, June 6: The Left parties today began a week-long nationwide agitation in protest against the ''unjustified'' hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, with their activists taking to the streets to demand a rollback.
Thousands of protestors comprising women, youth and students held demonstrations, street meetings and dharnas in the national capital, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Amritsar and several places in Kolkata, Left leaders told UNI.
The ''spontaneous'' agitation against the increase in the prices of petrol by Rs 4 and diesel by Rs two per litre, will culminate in a National Protest Day on June 13, CPI Genenral Secretary A B Bardhan and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe said.
''We are contacting non-Congress and non-BJP parties to join the country-wide protest day,'' they said, adding that the protests were also against the steep hike in the prices of essential commodities which were going beyond the reach of the middle classes.
Addressing the protestors who wore red caps, carried red flags, banners and placards, the Left leaders deplored that the government had gone ahead with imposing the back-breaking burden on the people ignoring the five suggestions put forward by the Left to cope with the increase in international prices of oil.
The CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc had suggested reducing the tax component in the retail price and not treating under-recovery as a actual loss among other things.
Even the Congress has termed the hike ''too steep''.
Reacting to reports that the government would take more ''hard decisions'' in the coming days, CPI national secretary Shamim Faizi said, ''The Left will further intensify their agitation.'' The speakers emphasised that the Left parties, at the time of the general budget, and even before that, had called for certain measures to mobilise resources, like taxing those who could pay, revising the structure of wealth tax and widening income tax.
''Why can the government not tax the share-brokers? Even Mr P Chidambaram had at one time suggested this. Besides, an Expert Group has come out with the suggestion that trading at stock markets is like other trades and which must be taxed,'' the Left leaders said.
Meanwhile, AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said the trade unions will also join the National Protest day. ''We have also chalked out a long drawn protest programme against the the anti-people economic policies of the UPA government, which includes a general strike in the middle of September,'' he added.