UPA in Mamata’s line of fire over petro price hike

Kolkata, January 17 (HT): Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, the Congress’s biggest partner in the ruling UPA government, on Sunday slammed the decision to hike petroleum prices, saying her party had not been consulted before taking the decision. Trinamool will hit the streets on Monday in protest. “We did not know about this. Nobody discussed anything with us before taking the decision. We will launch a strong agitation against the decision,” said Banerjee.
She said Trinamool workers throughout the state, including Kolkata, would take to the streets in protest against the decision through rallies. There would be rallies in every block of the state.  “We are always with the people,” Banerjee added. “That is why, I have not increased railway fares.”
But Banerjee also lambasted the state government for the price hike of essential commodities. “They are also responsible. There is a huge cess. The state government should reduce cess and taxes, which can bring down prices,” said Banerjee. Party chief whip in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay said the matter of price rise of petroleum was not communicated despite Trinamool leaders having met Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday.  “There was no discussion with us. Even in our meeting with Pranab Mukherjee yesterday, there was no communication regarding the fuel hike,” said Bandopadhyay. Banerjee and some senior leaders held a meeting with the Union finance minister on Saturday at Kolkata airport, before Mukherjee left for Delhi.
Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Partho Chatterjee also held a press conference announcing an agitation against the price hike. He said that agitations on the issue of violence would continue side by side with that against price hike. Not to be left behind, the CPI(M) trade union CITU has also called a three-hour transport shutdown on Monday from noon all over West Bengal.  “We are with the people in this issue. Unlike others — CPI(M) — who just give lip service and are enacting a drama through token demonstrations,” said Chatterjee. Chatterjee and other leaders on Sunday took the body of Arati Mondol, the ninth person to die in the Netai firings. Mondol was critically injured and died on Sunday.