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Trinamool, DMK seek rollback of fuel price hike

New Delh/Chennai, Feb 27 (Calcutta Tube) In what could spell trouble for the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), its key constituents Trinamool Congress and the DMK Saturday demanded that a central tax that has been reimposed on petrol and diesel, leading to a rise in their prices, be withdrawn.

The Trinamool Congress said it will oppose in parliament Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s proposal in his budget speech Friday to increase the tax on fuels. DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi wrote letters with the same demand to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Trinamool leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay said his party will register its opposition in parliament to the decision.

‘We are unhappy with the decision. It should be reconsidered. We will convey our differences on the issue on the floor of the house (Lok Sabha),’ Bandhopadhyay told IANS.

Asked if there is a possibility of the party voting along with the opposition in case of vote on budget proposals, he said the Trinamool was opposed to ‘just one decision’.

‘We are not opposing the whole budget.’

Bandhopadhyay said hike in central tax on fuel will impact the poor who are already reeling under the rise in prices of essential commodities.

Karunanidhi, in his letter to Congress leaders, said that inflation was pinching the common man and increase in petrol and diesel prices was an additional burden on them.

Calling the budget presented by Mukherjee as ‘growth oriented’ Karunanidhi, however, said the increase in fuel prices will result in a further increase in prices of food items.

The government’s decision to increase central duty on petrol and diesel has put it on a collision course with the opposition, some of its allies and parties extending support to it from outside.

The Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have joined hands with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left on the issue of price rise.

The BSP, SP and RJD together have 47 MPs in the 545-member Lok Sabha and can create trouble for the government if they side with the opposition during a vote on a cut motion.

With the Trinamool Congress and DMK also joining the voices of protest over fuel tax hike, the opposition efforts to put the government in the dock on the issue are expected to gain momentum in the coming days.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said Friday that the government was ‘confident’ of getting its financial agenda through.

On the possibility of withdrawing tax hike on petroleum products, Bansal said the excise duty had earlier been reduced to offset increase in international prices of crude oil and the finance minister’s announcement in his budget speech was actually a ‘rollback’.

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