By BS Reporter
A day after diesel and petrol prices were increased by 45 paise a litre and Rs 1.50 a litre, respectively, opposition parties and the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) allies asked the government to roll back the hike.
However, the UPA defended price rise with Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi attributing it to "international market conditions" and the government being forced to resort to "tough measures".
Demanding an immediate roll back of the hike, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to hold nationwide protests.
The main opposition party will also take up the issue during the upcoming national executive meeting in Delhi on March 2.
Alvi told Business Standard, "International market prices has forced the government to take such steps. The government is not happy doing this."
Responding to the demands for a roll back of the hike by UPA ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its chief M Karunanidhi, the Congress spokesperson said, "We are aware of the concerns of our allies."
Karunanidhi had said in Chennai: "Despite statements condemning the hikes, prices of petrol and diesel keep increasing."
Senior BJP leaders have blamed the instability within the petroleum ministry and the "frequent changes of ministers" to be responsible for the consistent rise in petrol and diesel prices.
"Neither are the prices of petroleum products stable, nor is the ministry. Four ministers have been changed in the last eight years," said Ram Naik, former petroleum minister, while talking to reporters in Varanasi.
BJP leaders said they will take up the issue with the government in the Budget session. The price rise will result in inflation and further affect the people who are already suffering because of high prices of essential commodities, they added. Naik argued that Indian Railways account for 24 per cent of the total diesel consumption in the country, while 22 per cent is consumed by state transport services.
Responding to demands for a roll back for bulk purchasers of diesel such as the railways and the transport authority, Alvi said, "They (political parties) should approach the government to take a sympathetic view on the matter."
This hike in diesel prices comes a month after the Centre's move of phase-wise decontrol of diesel prices.