Describing the hike in diesel prices as a cruel joke and a "mortal blow" to the common man and farmers, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday accused the government of conspiring with the petrol 'mafia'.
"This is a cruel joke on the common man. It has hit farmers hard during the peak paddy sowing season. We will not allow this hike. We will not allow this government to loot the common man like this," said BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
"The way this government is increasing prices of petrol, diesel and LPG despite a reduction in international crude prices, it is a clear-cut case of a conspiracy with the petroleum mafia," Naqvi said.
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said the hike will have a cascading effect on prices and will contribute further to inflation.
"It is a mortal blow and it will cause hardship. Had it been raised in small amounts, it would not have been that objectionable or difficult. The increase will have a cascading effect on the economy as a whole. Prices are already not under control, so this is going to contribute to overall inflation and create mayhem in the economy," Sinha said.
BJP leader Ananth Kumar said, "We strongly protest against the steep hike and condemn it. There is a fire against corruption raging across the country and the government has poured diesel over it. It will have a cascading effect on inflation and price rise. It will hit the common man, farmers and the labourers."
He said the cap clamped on the number of cylinders to be made available to a family every year is highly condemnable.
Sinha said, "We had de-regulated diesel and petrol prices and we had left it to be determined by the oil marketing companies, so they were raising it and reducing it in line with the import and in parity with the prices which were prevalent."
"What is needed today is to revisit the whole thing and make sure that you have a system where the burden is not transferred in a high-handed manner to the people. Even if prices have to be raised, it must be done in small dosages, not by a hike of this kind," he said.
Naqvi also said, "If this is not rolled back, the people of the country will pack this government up. This government is anti-people and anti-poor. We will oppose this hike and will take to the streets."
The government has decided to hike diesel prices by Rs 5 per litre, effective midnight tonight, but left petrol, kerosene and LPG rates untouched.