The sudden scarcity of petrol in Chennai is set to ease and Tamil Nadu's fuel story today will be the DMK's agitation against the steep hike in petrol prices announced last week. The DMK is a partner in the UPA government at the Centre, which has been attacked by opposition parties and allies alike over the hike.
Chennai has seen some chaotic moments this week as petrol pumps in the city ran dry. Chief Minister Ms Jayalalithaa has announced that three ships carrying 67,000 kilolitres of petrol and diesel have arrived in Chennai; 2000 kilolitres of diesel have come in by road from Bangalore. The scramble at petrol pumps has eased.
Today, the DMK will hold petrol protests across the state, a day after the AIADMK, the ruling party, staged demonstrations to protest the "unprecedented" hike in petrol price and sought its immediate rollback.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi has demanded that both the Centre and the state should "voluntarily come forward" to reduce the tax levied on petrol to mitigate the burden on the common man in the wake of the recent hike. Some states like Kerala, Uttarakhand and Delhi have already cut Value Added Tax on petrol.
"The state government in Tamil Nadu gets 27 per cent tax from the petrol price. If the Centre and state governments reduce their tax percentage substantially on petrol, the recent hike will not affect the public," Mr Karunanidhi had said in a letter to his partymen on Monday.
The 88-year-old leader has also used the occasion to soundly reprimand the J Jayalalithaa government in the state for the recent increase in the prices of milk, bus fares and electricity tariff.
Today's protests by the DMK is the second such by a UPA ally after the Trinamool Congress, led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, took to the streets of Kolkata on Saturday in protest against the rise in petrol prices that were effected last Wednesday midnight. The allies, both big partners of the Congress-led coalition at the Centre, have been demanding a rollback ever since the hike was announced.