Congress faces heat over fuel price hike

The UPA government on Friday hiked the prices of diesel and kerosene by Rs 3 and Rs 2 per litre, respectively. LPG prices have been increased by a whopping Rs 50 per cylinder.

Defending the Central government decision to hike prices citing compulsions, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told the media that the Centre had tried to lessen the burden of people by reducing custom duty on petroleum products. “Likewise, all state governments can reduce their taxes according to their financial capacity. We are asking the Congress-ruled states to do so. There are times when you are compelled to take hard decisions. There is no doubt that when the prices of diesel go up, everybody feels the pinch.

But if you see all the facts you will realise that there was no other option,” he claimed. The announcement came after Union Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy ruled out any possibility to roll back the prices de­­spite the countrywide pr­o­te­sts.

The price rise was predictably greeted with anger by the common man and the opposition parties, with the BJP and the Left parties organising agitations against the government.  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a major ally of the government, said she does not support frequent fuel price hikes as they put immense pressure on the  people.

The BJP on Saturday held protests in different parts of the country against the price hike and accused the government of being “insensitive to the sufferings of the common man” and imposing “economic emergency” on the country.

“This is the tenth hike in the prices of petroleum products. The UPA government came to power with a slogan “Congress ka haath aam adami ke saath”, but this is what the common man has got,” quipped Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.

“The government is totally insensitive to the sufferings of the common man. The victims are housewives, farmers and poorest of the poor,” she added.

Another leader Shahnawaz Khan said “the step exposed the Congress’s face that reminded people of the days of Emergency. It would not be an exaggeration if we say it was like imposing economic emergency on the nation.”

The CPM, CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc described the hike as “another cruel blow” to the common people since the increase in diesel price will lead to a rise in transport cost and affect farmers, while those in kerosene and LPG cylinders would burn a hole in the pocket of the common man.

Freight rates to go up by 8-9 pc

Following hike in diesel rates, transporters on Saturday said they will raise freight rates by 8-9 per cent with immediate effect on all routes across India, report agencies from Chandigarh.

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