Spontaneous protests in Andhra Pradesh over price hike

June 4th, 2008 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, June 4 (IANS) The steep hike in prices of petroleum products announced Wednesday evoked spontaneous protests across Andhra Pradesh as the opposition parties gave a call for shutdown Friday. Activists of the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Left parties took to streets in the state capital and some towns to protest the hike. The TDP gave a call for state-wide shutdown Friday while the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) called for shutdown in Telangana region the same day.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Communist Party of India (CPI) also announced plans to hold protests across the state from Thursday.

Andhra Pradesh is the hardest by the hike as the sales tax here is the highest in the country at 33 percent. The petrol will now cost Rs.57.65 per litre, diesel Rs.38.39 and an LPG cylinder Rs.353.

TDP activists staged a sit-in on the busy RTC crossroads here, blocking the vehicular traffic.

Workers of TDP and the Left parties staged road and rail blockades in Tirupati, Nalgonda, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and other places.

TDP leader T. Devender Goud said the latest hike would further burden the common man.

“This is the seventh time the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government has hiked the (petro) prices burdening the poor and the middle classes,” he said.

Taking advantage of the hike, many petroleum dealers created artificial shortage. Though the new prices will come into effect from midnight, petrol stations across the state were either shut down or restricted sales.

Boards announcing ‘no stock’ greeted customers at hundreds of petrol pumps in the state capital and other major cities as the traders preferred to sell the products after new prices come into effect.

The hike followed by the shortage had the vehicle-owners fuming. The customers had heated arguments with petrol pump owners at several places.

The hike evoked sharp reaction from people. “Normally the prices are hiked by 50 paise or one rupee but this hike by Rs.5 for petrol is just not acceptable,” said T. Dayakar, a businessman.

The Rs.50 hike for a cylinder of cooking gas was sharply criticised by housewives. “With the prices of all essential commodities going up, it was already difficult to run the house. This hike has come as yet another blow on us,” said Pushpa, a homemaker.

People fear the hike would lead to further escalation of prices of essential commodities.

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