Our Bureau

New Delhi, June 5

The four Leftist allies of the UPA Government and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party today dubbed the Government decision to increase petrol and diesel prices by Rs 4 and Rs 2, respectively, as "anti people" and announced that they would go on a nationwide protest to compel the Government to roll back the hike.

"We will hit the streets against the unjustifiable price hike. The protests would be in the form of demonstrations, sit-ins and rallies," the CPI(M) leader, Mr Nilotpal Basu, said after the price hike was announced.

Lashing out at the Government for increasing the prices of petro products, the CPI urged all sections of the society to wage a nationwide agitation till the decision is reversed.

`Cascading effect'

``We strongly oppose the Government decision. Already, there is a steep increase in the prices of essential commodities and the oil price hike will have a cascading effect, which will increase the burden on poor people,'' the CPI National Secretary, Mr D. Raja, said.

The AITUC leader and CPI MP, Mr Gurudas Das Gupta, said: "We will be going to the streets and will go to any extent against the anti-poor decision of the Government that has betrayed the people's mandate."

Note to PM

Earlier during the day, the four parties - the CPI(M), the CPI, the Forward Bloc and the RSP - in a note submitted to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, demanded creation of a price stabilisation fund from the cess of Rs 2,500 a tonne for supporting oil companies and cut in excise duty on products and made specific without any ad valorem content.

The Opposition BJP, too, announced protests, including road blockade, across the country on Wednesday as part of its agitation against the UPA Government's decision.

The party attacked the Left parties for their "inability" to stop the Government from hiking the prices. Party spokesman Mr Prakash Javadekar said, "Fifty per cent of the prices are collected by the Government as taxes. They should have reduced the taxes and left the common man untouched."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 6, 2006)
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