Cut in petrol price evokes mixed response in Bengal


Kolkata: The cut in petrol prices, by Rs.1.85 per litre, has evoked a mixed political response in West Bengal with the Left Front describing it as a ploy to woo the masses before the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls and the Trinamool Congress claiming it to be the outcome of its threat to pull out from the central government.

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India’s oil marketing companies Tuesday cut petrol prices by Rs.1.85 per litre, excluding state taxes and levies.

The move comes against the backdrop of some allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and opposition parties alike criticising the move earlier this month by oil companies retailers to hike petrol prices by Rs.1.80 per litre.

“We have seen this ploy earlier also just before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls when the oil prices came down and were increased just after the polls. As the UP assembly polls are knocking at the door so it has been decreased to appease the masses,” said Mohammed Salim, central committee member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

“They were under tremendous pressure both from their alliance partners and opposition parties. The UP assembly election is near so they had to put up a pro-public image, so the prices have come down,” said Kshiti Goswami, state secretary, Revolutionary Socialist Party.

“The petrol prices have been increased 11 times (in 12 months) and this is the first time the oil prices have come down. So it needs to be calculated first how much has increased and how much the price has come down,” said Manju Kumar Majumdar, state secretary, Communist Party of India.

The Trinamool which is the second largest ally of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) last week had threatened to pull out from the government over its dissatisfaction regarding the frequent hike in petrol prices.

The Trinamool Tuesday dubbed the decision to bring down the prices as the victory of the party supreme Mamata Banerjee.

“It is definitely a success for Trinamool and party chief Mamata Banerjee who had time again protested against the price rise of petrol. We welcome the decision as it will bring some relief to the masses who are reeling under the bane of inflation,” Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar told IANS.

“After repeated agitation by ‘Maa, Mati, Manush’ (a slogan of Trinamool) and the Trinamool parliamentary party, the UPA government was forced to reduce petrol prices by around Rupees 2,” said the official website of Trinamool Congress.