New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) A day after the UPA-II government touted high economic growth in its annual report, it came under attack from the opposition as well as its allies Wednesday for the sharpest hike yet in petrol price – a decision that could prove to be politically costly with just two years to go for the elections.
Petrol prices will rise between Rs.7.54 and Rs.7.98 in the four metros following a base price hike of Rs.6.28 per litre exclusive of taxes, effective midnight.
Reflecting public anger over the dramatic price hike, UPA ally Trinamool Congress slammed the move, saying the hike was “a burden on the common man”.
Asserting that she and her party were not consulted over this politically fraught decision, Banerjee said the trinamool was not pulling out of the government, but warned that this would cause more economic and political instability.
The DMK, another key UPA ally, was also disappointed and said it will take up the issue with the government.
The chief opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was unstinting in its denunciation of the price hike and accused the government of burdening the common man through “mismanagement of the economy”. The party demanded a rollback and asserted that it will take its protest against the price hike to the streets.
“It’s atrocious and unbelievable. The UPA government on its third anniversary has given the gift of fuel hike to the people,” senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.
“This is injustice and there is no justification for this,” he said.
BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain warned that the Congress would be taught a lesson in the general elections, adding that the UPA allies would face collateral damage for being seen to support the Congress over this unpopular move. He accused the UPA of celebrating three years in power Tuesday when the economy was reeling.
Taking a dig at the UPA-II’s third anniversary celebrations, Hussain said the price hike has exposed the government’s claims of standing up for the common man.
“The government had taken this step emboldened by the presence of new allies,” he said, alluding to leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and lalu Yadav of the RJD sharing the stage with the UPA at the anniversary celebrations.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman rebutted the government’s contention that the price hike was forced by the rise in global oil prices said it was merely using the global financial crisis as “an excuse for its mismanagement of the economy”.
The Communist parties, too, slammed the hike.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist said the economy was in a state of collapse.
D. Raja of the Communist Party of India said: “It is just a prelude. It will burden the common people and we will protest on the streets and the government will have to rollback the hike.”
A defensive Congress, however, took refuge in the high global prices of oil. “Global prices are up and the oil companies take their own decisions after the deregulation of petrol prices. India is part of the world and so it is affected too,” said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.