Petrol price hike: Hartal in Kerala today

published on May 23, 2012

Political parties, vehicle users and common people furiously protested against the steep hike in petrol price announced by the Centre on Wednesday. Among the states, Kerala would be one of the worst hit by the price rise as petrol would now cost around Rs 77 a litre including taxes in the State.

The CPI(M)-led Opposition LDF and the BJP would observe a State-wide, dawn-to-dusk hartal on Thursday to protest the price hike. State CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people to support the agitation. Protest demonstrations were held in several places in the State on Wednesday.

CPI(M)’s Politbureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan described the petrol price hike as a gift to the people from the UPA Government on its third anniversary and the State’s UDF Government on its first anniversary. “There should be intense agitations to make the Centre withdraw this hike,” Kodiyeri said.

“It would have been far better if the Centre set the people ablaze after pouring petrol on them,” said State BJP general secretary K Surendran. “All the statistics they put before us to justify this hike are part of a betrayal. Will Union Ministers like AK Antony from Kerala tell us how they are making our lives better?” asked Surendran.

Terming the hike unfortunate, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy admitted that this would cause trouble for the people. “What I understand is that the hike was inevitable as the crude prices are going up in the global market and the rupee is continuing its downslide,” Chandy said, adding that the Government would discuss dropping tax on the hiked price component on Thursday.

Unable to justify the price hike, State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala said his party would write to the Centre asking for a rollback. “We will ask the Kerala Government not to charge the additional tax on the hiked component of the petrol price,” Chennithala said. He too opined that the hike was unavoidable in the present situation.

However, senior Congress leader VM Sudheeran blasted the Centre for the hike. “This price hike cannot be justified in any way. This would have a very huge impact on Keralites. I think such hikes would inevitably lead to an unprecedented inflation. Those who opposed the permission given to oil companies to determine petrol price now stand justified,” Sudheeran said.

“Let the Congress leaders come to my house seeking votes for their candidate,” said Mariam Mathew, a 40-year-old fisherwoman earning her family’s bread by selling dried fish on a moped in Neyyattinkara in Thiruvananthapuram district, where an Assembly by-election is to be held on June 2.

“Our men can’t go the sea now because they (the UPA Government) cut the kerosene allocation. Everything is costlier now and they are trying to feed us with indigestible arithmetic about global economic status when we ask for better allocations. Now they make life worse for me. When petrol price goes up by Rs 7.50, I suffer a minimum loss of Rs 40 a day,” she said.

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