Demanding a roll back in the budgetary hikes on petroleum products, nine Opposition parties including the four Left parties have decided to conduct a joint week-long campaign against price rise from February 3.
The people are suffering due to the relentless increase in the prices of food items, while the callous UPA government continues to hand out false assurances, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said after a meeting of representatives of “like-minded and secular parties” on Thursday.
The government must take immediate steps to prohibit forward trading in food items and essential commodities, besides universalising the public distribution system, Karat said at a press conference.
The UPA government’s policies have contributed to inflation, as is evident from the fact that since de-regulation, petrol prices have been hiked seven times – leading to 20% rise in petrol prices, the Left and secular parties said in a press release.
Oil companies have increased the petrol prices twice in a month – the hike amounting to a steep Rs 5.50 per litre, the release further points out. Besides Left leaders including Sitaram Yechury and AB Bardhan, today’s meeting was attended by Arjun Charan Sethi of the Biju Janata Dal, Nama Nageshwara Rao (TDP), Thambidurai (AIADMK) and Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The campaign programme will include strategies such as the picketing of central government offices, protest demonstrations, dharnas and rallies – culminating in a public demonstration at New Delhi on February 9.
Interestingly, Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chief Mamata Banerjee is also understood to have raised objections to the petroleum price hike at today’s meeting of the union cabinet and is also believed to have written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.”
Before the start of parliament’s budget session on February 21, the leaders of the nine parties are likely to meet again to possibly work out a joint strategy in parliament, Karat said.
In February first week, the campaign will hinge around demands for remunerative prices for farmers and prohibition of foreign capital in retail trade.
The government must also take firm measures against hoarding and end the de-regulation of petroleum products, Karat said.