Allies, oppn slam Govt over petrol price hike

New Delhi: The Government was today slammed by friends and foes alike over the sharp increase in petrol price, with key UPA constituents Trinamool Congress and DMK terming it as "unjust" and demanding an immediate rollback.

"We cannot accept the petrol price hike. It is unjust and unilateral. It was done without our knowledge," West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in Kolkata, soon after the hike of Rs 7.50 per litre was announced. Banerjee also questioned the timing of the decision, asking "Parliament session ended only yesterday but why was it (price hike) announced today?"

Echoing similar views, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said in Chennai that the price hike should be immediately rolled back. He said the DMK MPs will convey the party view to the government. UPA`s outside supporter Samajwadi Party, whose chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was the focus of Congress-led government`s celebrations yesterday, also slammed the hike as a "gift" to the common man on completion of three years in power.

"We demand immediate rollback of petrol price hike. The decision is anti-people," SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said. Terming the steep hike in petrol price as "unreasonable", BJP warned of a political agitation if it is not withdrawn. "We condemn the petrol price hike and seek its rollback. We will not allow it to happen. A strong democratic agitation is on the cards," BJP`s spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

Strongly opposing the move, the Left parties called upon their units to immediately launch protest actions all over the country. "It is a cruel blow on people who are already suffering from severe price rise. The Left parties have called upon all party units to immediately organise powerful protest actions," CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat told PTI.

His senior colleague Sitaram Yechury said the move was a "criminal additional burden" on people`s livelihood. Leaders of the CPI-M, CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc, who met here, also opposed the move, with CPI leader D Raja saying this was a "prelude to hike the prices of diesel and other petroleum products".

Congress on its part, however, steered clear of the issue saying that petrol companies are independent into the matter after the deregulation of petrol prices. Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi at the same time said, "it is a very difficult decision".