New Delhi: The steep rise in petrol prices drew sharp criticism from major opposition parties which on Sunday slammed the government for putting “unprecedented burden” on the common man and demanded reversal of the de-regulation policy.
Hitting out at the government, BJP National vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the rise in prices of petroleum products every second month will “suck the blood” of the poverty-ridden masses.
He alleged that the step was taken to “realise all its expenses” incurred on recently held elections in the five states.
The Left parties termed the hike as a “cruel blow” by the UPA government and demanded a reversal of the de-regulation policy implemented in June 2010.
“By increasing the price of petrol by Rs 5 a litre, the UPA government has given another cruel blow to the people who are already suffering from all-round price rise,” a statement issued by CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc said.
After the deregulation of petrol pricing, the parties said, there have been more or less a monthly increase in petrol prices.
“But since January 2011 no increase in petrol prices was announced by the oil companies. Obviously, the government had directed them not to do so keeping in view the assembly elections for the five states”.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, however, said in Kolkata that the government had no control over petrol prices, which had been de-regulated in June 2010.
He said the empowered GoM will meet next week to decide on diesel, LPG and kerosene prices.
In Allahabad, activists of Samajwadi Party disrupted rail traffic while those from BJP staged a dharna to protest the “rapacious hike” and demanded a rollback.
Workers of the Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha, the youth wing of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party, went to the Prayag railway and squatted on the tracks blocking the movement of Lucknow-bound Ganga Gomti Express for an hour.
A dharna was organised at the busy Civil Lines crossing in the city by BJP supporters, led by former state minister and MLA Narendra Kumar Singh Gaur.
Shiromani Akali Dal also sought an immediate rollback and demanded a “transparent formula” for fixation of petrol price.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, in a statement in Chandigarh, slammed the UPA for the “totally unjustified and unbearable” petrol price hike.
He said rather than “hastily increasing” the price of petrol, the Union government should have built a consensus on the issue by discussing it with all the political parties.