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Left warns of nationwide stir

The Left parties have suggested a review of taxation on petro products.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2006 05:10 IST

Adopting an aggressive posture, Left parties on Thursday warned the UPA government not to hike petro product prices for the fifth time during its tenure and threatened a nationwide protest action involving non-Congress and non-BJP parties to oppose any such move.

"If the government announces a hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, which is likely next week, then the Left parties and other organisations will come out spontaneously to oppose the move.

"We will contact other political parties and give a joint call for a nationwide protest action including a general strike," CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said after a 90-minute meeting of the four Left parties supporting the UPA from outside.

Maintaining that this would be the fifth time the UPA government would resort to hiking petroleum product prices, he said the Left has made out "a strong and effective case" against such increases and suggested a review of the taxation of petroleum products, including reducing customs and excise duties.

However, the government has not paid heed to these suggestions and burdening the "already over-burdened people" due to rise in prices of essential commodities, Karat, who was accompanied by his CPI counterpart AB Bardhan, D Raja, Forward Bloc's Debabrata Biswas and G Devarajan and RSP's Abani Roy.

Karat made it clear that the Left was not for a "negotiated hike" in petro prices and were totally against any rise, as it would have a multiplier effect on the prices of essential commodities that were already high.

Asked which other parties would they invite to join the proposed nationwide protest against any hike in the petrol prices, Biswas and Roy said all parties barring the Congress and the BJP would be spoken to.

Karat said while spontaneous protests like demonstrations would be held immediately after an announcement on the hike, the date of a nationwide action including a general strike would be "mutually agreed upon" with the other parties.

The Left parties, the CPI(M) leader said, also decided to prepare a comprehensive note on the two-year performance of the UPA government and submit it to the Left-UPA Coordination Committee for discussion.

The note would spell out the areas of concern, the areas of differences between the ruling coalition and the outside supporters and the issues, which the government should immediately take up.

Besides economic issues like rise in prices of essential commodities, disinvestments and airport privatisation, the note would also deal with foreign policy issues. Non-implementation of "pro-people" commitments in the common minimum programme like women's reservation bill or the legislation on unorganised workers and agricultural labourers would also find a place in the note.