CPI(M) to protest any fuel price hike | india | Hindustan Times
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CPI(M) to protest any fuel price hike

india Updated: May 30, 2008 20:51 IST
Bappa Majumdar

India's main communist party, an important government ally, said on Friday it would protest in the streets if ministers agree to raise retail fuel prices to help ease mounting losses of state oil firms.

India is debating how best to bail out oil retailers and refiners losing tens of millions of dollars a day due to crude oil's record run while having to sell petrol and diesel at cheap, government-set rates.

The ruling Congress Party-led coalition is widely expected to raise prices over the weekend, but wary of upsetting voters in a year dotted with important elections, the size of the hike is likely to far less than the 15-20 per cent increases sought by the oil ministry.

"We will go to the streets if the government does not listen, we are totally opposed to any price rise," said Prakash Karat, head of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the largest among the left parties.

Congress has lost a string of state elections and has been widely criticised by opposition parties and the left for fast rising food and other commodity prices which pushed inflation over 8 percent in mid-May to a new 3-½ year high.

The country's oil minister, Murli Deora, said on Thursday some communist leaders had been helpful and cooperating on the issue of raising petroleum prices but Karat ruled out any negotiations over the issue.

The left has proposed a cut in excise and import duties on crude oil and petroleum products to tide over the crisis.