The UPA government was on Wednesday slammed by friends and foes alike over the sharp increase in petrol price, with key UPA constituents Trinamool Congress and DMK terming it as "unjust" and demanding an immediate rollback.
"We cannot accept the petrol price hike. It is unjust and unilateral. It was done without our knowledge," West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in Kolkata, soon after the hike of Rs. 7.50 per litre was announced.
BJP protesters shout slogans as they burn the effigy of the UPA government against the petrol price hike, in Hyderabad. AFP/Noah Seelam
Echoing similar views, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said in Chennai that the price hike should be immediately rolled back.
He said the DMK MPs will convey the party view to the government.
UPA's outside supporter Samajwadi Party, whose chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was the focus of Congress-led government's celebrations yesterday, also slammed the hike as a "gift" to the common man on completion of three years in power.
Terming the steep hike in petrol price as "unreasonable", BJP warned of a political agitation if it is not withdrawn.
The increase was put at Rs. 6.28 per litre which, when taxes are included, will mean a Rs-7.5 hike for consumers in cities such as New Delhi from Thursday.
The need for an urgent and substantial rise had been flagged by senior ministers in recent weeks, but is still likely to result in a major political fallout for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition government.
In a statement, the country's largest refiner, Indian Oil Corp, said it had been "compelled" to hike the price after sustaining losses of Rs. 10.5 billionn since the start of the current financial year, April 1.
BJP says petrol price hike "unreasonable"
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) moved quickly to criticise the increase, and warned that it could lead to public protests.
The main opposition party has termed the steep hike in petrol price as "unreasonable" and warned of a political agitation while seeking its roll-back.
"We condemn the petrol price hike and seek its roll back. We will not allow it to happen. A strong democratic agitation is on the cards," BJP's spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
He said general secretaries of the party will meetto chalk out a roadmap of the agitation against the petrol price hike.
Alleging the UPA government had "mismanaged" the economy, the party said the petrol price hike will make the life of the common man "miserable".
Not pulling out but will protest: Mamata
Miffed over the steep rise in petrol prices, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that she would protest but not pull out of the central government.
"As we have a commitment to support the government and we do not want political instability, we are not pulling out. But that does not mean we will not oppose the decision. The hike is unjust. We are really pained and saddened," Banerjee told the media at the state secretariat.
She lashed out at the Congress for taking the decision without consulting its alliance partners.
"Before taking such a big decision, even if it was necessary, why were the coalition partners not consulted?
Jayalalithaa demands rollback
Strongly condemning the steep hike in petrol price, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday demanded its immediate roll back, warning that otherwise people's agony would spell the doom for the 'anti-people' UPA government soon.
"The hike of Rs. 7.50 will affect the poor and the middle class. This is a gift given to the people by the UPA coalition government on its completion of three years in office," the AIADMK chief said in a statement.
She said the hike in petrol price could have been avoided by reducing the profit of the government as well as private run oil companies, reducing the tax on petrol and checking the falling rupee value.
Holding that the UPA government's 'wrong' economic policies were responsible for the price rise, steep rupee depreciation and economic slowdown, she said the latest petrol price hike had only added "fuel to the fire".
There was no doubt that the hike would dent the middle class people's purchasing power further and plummet their economic status, she said.
Withdraw 'unbearable' petrol hike: Badal
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday slammed the UPA government for the "totally unjustified" hike in the price of petrol and demanded its immediate roll back.
In a statement in Chandigarh, the Akali Dal said the hike would unleash fresh inflationary trends, jack up prices of all essential commodities and break the back of the common man.
Demanding immediate withdrawal of the "unbearable hike", he said the steep increase would retard the pace of economic growth.
Badal lamented that inflation had already touched double digit mark and was beyond the control of UPA government despite its tall claims to check it.
Left calls for nationwide protests
The Left parties on Wednesday strongly opposed the move and called upon their units to immediately launch "powerful" protest actions all over the country.
"It is a cruel blow on people who are already suffering from severe price rise. The Left parties have called upon all party units to immediately organise powerful protest actions," CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat said.
His senior colleague Sitaram Yechury said the move was a "criminal additional burden" on people's livelihood.
Leaders of the CPI-M, CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc, who met in Kolkata, also opposed the move, with CPI leader D Raja saying this was a "prelude to hike the prices of diesel and other petroleum products".
Observing that the hike had been effected "even before a day had passed after the Budget Session of Parliament ended", he said the government's move was "completely unethical and undemocratic. It shows how totally insensitive the Congress-led UPA government has become to the sufferings of the common people."
It's 'gift' from UPA to common man: SP
UPA's outside supporter Samajwadi Party on Wednesday dubbed the steep petrol price hike as a "gift" to the common man from the government on completion of its three years in office and demanded its immediate roll back.
"We demand immediate roll back of petrol price hike. The decision is anti-people. UPA government has given this gift to the common man on completion of its three years' rule," SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said hours after the government announced a steep hike of Rs. 7.50 a litre.
He said the party would protest the decision and raise its voice against the unreasonable hike.
The Congress-led government deregulated petrol prices in 2010 in a reform aimed at reducing the massive subsidies it pays to state-run fuel refiners which rely on imported energy.
A series of much smaller petrol price increases last year caused an internal revolt, with the second-largest party in the coalition threatening to pull out unless the price hikes were rolled back.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)