Cong justifies fuel price hike, runs into Oppn & allies

Under attack from opposition and key UPA ally Trinamool Congress for the move to hike petro products, Congress today said the government must have been "constrained" to take the decision.

Updated: Jun 25, 2010, 22:21 PM IST

New Delhi: Under attack from opposition and
key UPA ally Trinamool Congress for the move to hike petro
products, Congress today said the government must have been
"constrained" to take the decision.

Party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters "we
believe that government must have been constrained to take
this decision and will ensure that the impact is cushioned to
the maximum possible to the disadvantaged section."

Natarajan, who faced a volley of questions, reminded
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee that as Railway
Minister she was also a party to the decision as the
government decides any matter as a "collective court".

"I have no information what Mamata Banerjee has said.
This is governmment decision I believe government takes the
decision as collective court. Naturally, it is a decision of
council of ministers", she said.

Steering clear of questions about possible rollback of
the hike and whether party chief Sonia Gandhi had approved the
decision, Natarajan said "I am speaking for the party and not
the government. The decision has been taken by the

To a question about its impact on prices, she said "we
believe government has taken all these issues into
consideration before going for a decision."

Asked whether the decision showed that the government
does not care for the common man, she said "it is unfair to
make such comments about the government which has the best
interests of people in mind.

"We have always been concernd over the welfare of common
man. We are very much aware of the effect of any economic
measure like the fuel price hike.", she said in reply to
another question.

Oppn, allies slam hike

The hike in fuel prices has stirred a hornet`s nest with key UPA ally Trinamool Congress joining the opposition parties in slamming the Centre and demanding its roll back.

The CPI-M will be hitting the streets tomorrow to protest
against the decision, which it said was "unprecedented".

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who faces
Assembly polls in the CPI-M ruled West Bengal next year, said
she does not support the hike because kerosene, LPG and diesel
are directly linked with the common people`s kitchen.

While Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said that none of
the members present at the EGoM gave a dissenting note,
sources said that DMK leader M K Alagiri, whose party voiced
opposition to the move after the decision, had brought a paper
outlining his party`s reservations on the move but did not
circulate it.

"I know Banerjee is in town but I don`t know why she did
not attend the meeting," Deora said. "All others were very
cooperative. (DMK leader and Fertiliser Minister) M K Alagiri
and (Agriculture Minister) Sharad Pawar were in agreement with
these decisions."

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said his party
condemns UPA`s efforts to burden the common man with yet
another dose of petrol and diesel price hike.

"Instead of providing relief to the common man, the
government is bent upon taking the petroleum prices to new
heights which clearly is an anti-people policy," Javadekar
said adding this hike would have a cascading effect on
prices of essential commodities.

"BJP demands that consumer should not be asked to pay
more either for subsidising the inefficiencies of the oil PSUs
or jacking up profits of the private oil companies. We demand
withdrawal of taxation hike and the proposed hike," he said.

NDA ally JD-U also attacked the Centre saying the UPA
government had come to power on the promise of being
supportive to `aam aadmi` but it "betrayed them and made their
life unbearable by steep price rise of all essential

RJD president Lalu Prasad today said
that decision to hike the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG
was "unwarranted" and added that it would further jack up the
prices of essential commodities.

Prasad told reporters here that he had expected the UPA
government to undertake some positive positive measures to
control the inflation ... but the present decision to increase
the prices of petroleum products was "anti-people"

We would hit the streets against the decision, he said
and asked other political parties to join the agitation.