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Allies, opposition target government over petrol price rise

Friday September 16, 2011 10:43:29 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Key allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Friday joined the chorus against the petrol price hike, forcing the government to call off a ministerial meeting that was to consider increasing cooking gas prices.

The ruling Congress party too called for steps to reduce burden on the common man.

Official sources said following pressure from allies, the government Friday deferred a ministerial meeting that was scheduled for the day to consider hike in price of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders and limiting their supply to households in a year.

UPA constituents Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and DMK opposed hike in the price of petrol while the opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left, hit the streets to lodge their protest.

Prices of petrol were raised by oil marketing companies effective Fridaay by Rs.3.14 a litre. Petrol prices have been hiked 10th time since June 2010.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee joined the opposition in criticising the petrol price hike.

Banerjee said party general secretary and union Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy had called up Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee and conveyed to him the Trinamool's views.

"We have apprised the central government of our stand. If petrol and diesel rates are raised regularly, then prices of other essentials also go up. We don't want this. I am against the hike. My party is against the increase. This is not right," Banerjee told mediapersons in Kolkata.

The Trinamool is the second largest partner of the Congress-led UPA government at the centre with 19 MPs.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, who called on Banerjee at the state secretariat in Kolkata, said she would convey the Trinamool chief's concern over price rise and the long-delayed Teesta river accord to the prime minister.

Soni expressed confidence that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Panab Mukherjee would take "adequate steps" to ensure that the prices of daily needs of the common man are kept in control.

The BJP warned against any attempt to raise LPG cylinder prices.

"Today because there is corruption in the country, the common man is angered with Congress... the party is taking revenge by rising price," BJP spokesperson Sayed Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.

Opposing any attempt to raise the prices of cooking gas (LPG), Shahnawaz Hussain said: "If they increase the prices of cooking gas, we will raise it from parliament to the streets."

The Congress said it was concerned over rise in price of petrol.

"We are concerned if price of petrol goes up. The burden it is causing (on the common man), the government should find a way. The government has to find a way," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.

He said price of petrol was decided by oil marketing companies on the basis of international crude cost after government decontrolled its price.

Alvi suggested that state governments can reduce taxes on petrol to provide relief to the common man.

At one point, Alvi also said petrol price hike was "inevitable".

West Bengal's opposition Left Front parties denounced the petrol price hike as anti-people and decided to hit the streets.

"Prices of essentials will go up," Left Front chairman Biman Bose told media persons after a meeting of the front partners in Kolkata.

While BJP workers protested petrol price hike in Delhi, Samajwadi Party workers clashed with police in Lucknow, shouting slogans against the central government.

UPA constituents NCP and DMK also expressed unhappiness over the hike in petrol prices.

NCP leader D.P. Tripathi said hike in fuel prices will have a cascading effect on the prices of other commodities.

"Since we are part of the government, we are not opposing the government decision but we are stating our views," he said.

DMK party spokesman T.K.S. Elangovan demanded a rollback in the price hike.

"The hike in petrol prices will affect the lower and middle income groups and the poor. Government should not reduce the subsidy," he said.







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