Fuel price: Left puts UPA Govt on notice
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Fuel price: Left puts UPA Govt on notice

Launching a nationwide agitation against the hike, senior party leaders courted arrest, demanding a complete rollback.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 20:00 IST

Senior Left party leaders on Tuesday hit the streets and courted arrest demanding a complete rollback of the hike in fuel prices and giving a stern warning to the UPA government that it cannot take their support for granted.

Launching a nationwide agitation against the hike, CPI(M) leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, CPI's AB Bardhan, RSP Secretary Abani Roy, Forward Bloc leaders Debabrata Biswas and G Devarajan along with a large number of Left activists courted arrest at the Parliament Street police station.

Leaders from Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Janata Dal (S) were also present.

Left leaders said the demonstration was to mount pressure on the government to reverse its "anti-people" decision and made it clear that the issue would be raised in the UPA-Left Coordination Committee meeting slated for Wednesday.

They, however, said the stir was not a threat to the stability of the two-year-old government, which was established to keep "communal forces" at bay.

Addressing the gathering, Karat ridiculed the move by Congress-led state governments to reduce state-level taxes on petrol and diesel as "foolishness" and said the Centre should first reduce taxes to make fuel cheaper instead of passing the entire burden on the states.

The hike in fuel prices could have been avoided if the government implemented the alternatives suggested by the Left parties, including slashing customs and excise duties on crude imports, he said.

"We have also suggested that the oil cess fund, amounting to a whopping Rs 1,25,000 crore, could be converted into a price stabilisation fund so that entire burden of global crude price hike was not passed onto the consumers," Karat said.

He added that if the Centre reduces the taxes, left-ruled states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura may think about it.

Criticising the government for not considering the proposal to cut the incentives being given to private oil companies and refineries, Karat said, "Common people of the country are suffering the burden of such incentives."

CPI leader AB Bardhan ridiculed the claims by the Central government about inflation and price indices. "Prices of all essential commodities are increasing. Still the government says inflation and prices of essential commodities are under control," he said.

He also warned the UPA about a Nepal like uprising against it if the government goes ahead with anti-people policies.

Taking potshots on the demand of NDA to change the tax structure on fuels, Bardhan said, "we had asked the same thing when the NDA government led by Vajpayee was in power. But they never listened to it while hiking fuel prices."

Forward Bloc leader Debabrata Biswas alleged that the UPA government has no commitment to the people. "The government will be in danger unless they reverse the decision of fuel price hike," he said.

Criticising the Centre for exerting pressure on states to reduce taxes, Abani Roy of RSP said, "It seems that the Union government is not at all concerned about the burden of the people. Instead the government is passing the responsibility to the state governments."

First Published: Jun 13, 2006 10:56 IST