Left counters PM's justification for fuel hike

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New Delhi, June 5 (UNI) Left parties today came out with several suggestions and arguments to counter Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's rationale behind the steepest fuel hike in recent times, claiming that had the government accepted their viewpoint, people would have been spared of the ''killer burden''.

Questioning the the Prime Minister's assertion that the fuel hike was ''bare minimum and inevitable'', Left parties suggested several measures, including more cut in custom and excise duty on crude petroleum products, stoppage of sale of luxury cars for sometime and putting in place the public transport system.

In a strong reaction to Dr Singh justifying the steep hike in fuel prices, the top leaders of the CPI (M), CPI and Forward Bloc, told UNI that their viewpoint, which they had been putting forward for the last three years, had been vindicated and warned the UPA government of the 'heavy' political price in the forthcoming assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

The government yesterday hiked the prices of petrol by Rs 5 per litre, diesel by Rs 3 and LPG by Rs 50 per cylinder, which evoked strong protests from both the allies and the opposition parties.

Talking to UNI on phone from Kolkata, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said the Prime Minister did not seem to realise that the increase cannot be termed as ''bare minimum'' since the hike might not affect the miniscule 4 per cent rich class, but will hit very hard those 80 per cent, who live on less than Rs 20 a day, the lower and the middle classes.

''Why does n't the PM think that the upswing in the price of diesel will have an ''all round cascading impact'' on the cost of the essential commodities? It will further hit hard the rural and urban poor and the lower and the middle classes, already reeling under soaring inflation.'' Endorsing Mr Bardhan's viewpoint, CPI(M) senior leader Mohammad Salim noted, ''How can we describe the increase of Rs 50 in the LPG as bare minimum ''.


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