Fuel price hike: UPA draws criticism from all corners

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New Delhi, Jun 4 (UNI) The Congress led-United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government today drew criticism from all corners for effecting a hike in fuel prices with Opposition and allied parties terming it a step that will add to the woes of the common man already reeling under the burden of galloping inflation.

Dubbing ''suicidal'' the government decision to hike the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas, the Left parties called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh tomorrow in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura as part of their week-long nationwide agitation against the UPA's anti-people policy.

The CPI (M) and the CPI have also decided to organise a 'bandh' on Friday in Tamil Nadu.

CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told UNI that the state units of the Left-ruled states have already announced the agitation programmes in their respective states.

Soon after the government decided on the fuel price hike, the four Left parties the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc came down heavily on the Centre for transferring the burden on the common man and sparing private oil companies like the Reliance and Essar.

CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi told UNI that the ''halla bol'' will be in the form of various protest methods mainly picketing, rail and raasta roko, rallies and demonstrations.

The Left parties criticism came shortly after the government decided to hike the prices of petrol by Rs five per litre, diesel by Rs three per litre and LPG by Rs 50 per cylinder, which will come into effect from midnight tonight.

They said the government had ignored their suggestions and instead refused to impose a windfall profits tax on the oil and the gas extracting companies and private oil refineries.

A report from Chennai said the CPI (M) and the CPI called for a 'bandh' in Tamil Nadu on June 6 to protest the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) regime in Kerala has decided to reduce sales tax on petroleum products to relieve people from the burden of steep hike decided by the Centre, a report from Thiruvananthapuram stated.

In a swift move following the rise in petrol, diesel and domestic LPG prices, the ruling Left Front in West Bengal called a dawn-to-dusk statewide 'bandh' tomorrow to protest the UPA government's 'anti-people' policy.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fulminated against the Centre, saying it would organise agitation at the national level to protest the hike which will add to soaring inflation.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said the party failed to understand why the government did not think of revenue neutralisation before taking the decision to hurt the common man.

The government had taken only a ''half hearted'' initiative to reduce customs duty to 5 per cent from 10 per cent. This could have been extended to import duty and sales tax also. Such taxation measures would only enrich the coffers of the government and the oil companies, while inflicting miseries on the common masses.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also reproached the Centre for escalating the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas and said this would further push up the inflation graph in the country.

Demanding a rollback of the prices, Mr Badal said the hike would have an adverse effect on the economy of the nation. Instead of concentrating on checking inflation, the government has chosen to increase the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas, he added.


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