Kolkata:  Accompanied by thousands of partymen, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Saturday hit the roads here as the first Chief Minister to lead a protest march against the steep hike in petrol price to pressurize the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.

Braving the scorching heat, Banerjee along with Railway minister and the party's all-India general secretary Mukul Roy walked briskly for five kilometre from Jadavpur to Hazra crossing in south Kolkata.

Also in the procession were several state ministers like Partha Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Manish Gupta, besides deputy speaker Sonali Guha.

Trinamool Congress workers carried posters demanding that the hike in petrol price be rolled back and shouted slogans against the UPA government's decision.

Banerjee has already expressed strong displeasure against the 'unilateral and unjust decision' by the Centre to effect the sharp hike and demanded its rollback as it was unacceptable.

"It is unjust, unilateral and not right. We cannot support a decision which will put a huge additional burden on the common man. It is unacceptable," she said shortly after the petrol price hike was announced on Wednesday.

Though she has ruled out pulling out of the UPA, Banerjee has made it clear that did not mean that her party would cease to protest unjust decisions.

At the end of the march, the Trinamool chief directed her party workers to launch protest marches at booth and block-level in the state on Sunday.

Trinamool Congress Chief Whip in the assembly Sobhandev Chattopadhyay told reporters that the party chief was the first leader in the country to take to the streets to protest the petrol price hike.

"We are in the UPA alliance, but we have not signed any bond, he said.

"We are committed to the common minimum programme of the UPA, but Congress being the largest ally, did not bother to consult us, the second largest alliance partner on the decision to hike the petrol price. We have no option but to protest," Chattopadhyay said.

Trinamool's ally Congress, meanwhile, urged the state government to consider a partial reduction in taxes on petrol in the state to provide some relief to consumers affected by the hike in price.

Attributing the petrol price hike to the steep fall in rupee and rise international crude price, the ally also appealed to the Centre to take suitable measures to stabilize the rupee and review the petrol price to explore the possibility of lowering it as done earlier.


Alongwith the major UPA constituent TMC, other key ally DMK also mounted pressure on the Centre to roll back the steep hike in petrol price.

In Chennai, DMK chief M Karunanidhi asked the Centre not to remain adamant on petrol price increase and to ensure at least a partial rollback of the steep increase.

"Those in the Central Government should understand that people are agitated and (therefore) they should not remain adamant on their decision," Karunanidhi said in a letter to partymen.

He asked partymen to ensure the success of the May 30 protest by DMK against the latest petrol price hike.

"As it is the duty of a welfare government, Centre should ensure at least a partial rollback and find a solution," he said.

Referring to reports, the 88 year-old DMK leader said petrol was being sold at lower rates in Pakistan and China and India should introspect "whether it is fair" to sell the fuel at Rs 78 (Chennai rates).

He said Congress' allies, Trinamool Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP had also expressed displeasure over the latest hike.


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