Parties ask government to roll back fuel price hike

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Political parties, both the opposition and key allies in the Congress-led ruling coalition, lost no time in criticising the fuel price hike decision of the government.

Not just the BJP but also the Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the DMK asked the government to reconsider the decision. However, the Congress supported the government’s decision, saying there was no other option.

Trianmool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who skipped the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) meeting headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that took the decision, said she was not ‘happy’ with the fuel price hike as it puts pressure on the common man. She, however, said her Trinamool Congres will not withdraw from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over it.

‘My party does not support this hike. This puts all the pressure on the people. Government should reconsider the decision to increase the price of diesel, kerosene and LPG,’ she told reporters.

Petroleum Secretary S. Sundareshan Friday said the EGoM decided that petrol prices will be ‘market determined’.

Petrol will now be costlier by Rs 3.50 per litre, diesel by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene by Rs.3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder.

DMK leader and Fertilisers and Chemicals Minister M.K. Alagiri, who was also a member of the EGoM and was a party to the decision like Mamata Banerjee, handed over a note at the meeting opposing the the fuel price hike. He said the decision would put an additional burden on the public as the proposed increase was very high.

NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was also against the decision. Pawar, who had skipped the earlier EGoM meet, however, attended Friday’s meeting which the government said was inevitable in the current circumstances.

The BJP demanded a rollback of fuel prices.

‘We demand an immediate rollback of today’s (Friday) decision hiking fuel prices… the government has made a mockery of the people’s trust after winning the elections,’ BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters.

‘The BJP condemns this decision. People are reeling under the cumulative effect of price rise. This government looks to be aiming at finishing the common man,’ Javadekar said.

Strongly opposing the government’s decision to ‘inflict a steep rise’ in the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas, the Left parties termed it ‘a cruel blow’ on the people already suffering from the increase in prices of food and essential commodities.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said the Congress is ‘always concerned for the welfare of common man and woman.’

‘However, we believe that government must have been constrained to take these steps and ensure that the impact is miniamal,’ she said.

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