New Delhi: With the Centre coming under all
round attack over the hike in fuel prices, Congress on Saturday
turned defensive saying that it was due to compulsions and no
government wants to become unpopular.
"There must have been certain compulsions. No government
wants to become unpopular," AICC General Secretary Janardan
Dwivedi told reporters here as the Left-ruled West Bengal and
Kerala witnessed day-long strike to protest the hike.
The remarks of Dwivedi came soon after the JD(U) urged
the entire opposition to join hands for a `Bharat bandh` on
the issue of fuel price hike.
"The council of ministers must have considered all
aspects before taking the decision," a senior party leader
Party sources, however, ruled out the possibility of
price rise becoming an electoral issue in the Bihar Assembly
elections, expected in October-November this year.
"Price rise is hardly a factor in elections. People are
more concerned about governance than price rise," a senior
party leader said.
The opposition, however, has planned to bring the
government in the dock on the issue with JD(U) President
Sharad Yadav saying, "The UPA government has not only
increased fuel prices but has also decided to hand over the
country to the market. Government is under a false impression
that the opposition is divided and hence, it can do whatever
UPA ally and Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee
stuck to her demand of a rollback.
"The hike in prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene has
overburdened the people... I am disturbed," she told reporters
and once again appealed to the government to reconsider its
Banerjee said she has conveyed her displeasure to Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whom she met second time in as many
BJP also came down heavily on the government for
effecting the hike terming it as a "betrayal".
"The ruling UPA government has betrayed the people...from
day one (of Parliament Session), we will take up this issue
and oppose it by all means," BJP spokesperson Prakash
Javadekar said in Chennai.
"I think the session would begin in the last week of
July... till that time we will fight for rollback of fuel
prices on the streets," he said.
Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav too criticised
the government terming the hike in prices of petroleum
products as a "cruel joke" with common people and demanded an
immediate withdrawal of the decision.
"The Centre has failed to check prise rise and
yesterday`s decision to hike prices of petroleum products is a
cruel joke with the common and poor people of the country. It
should be rolled back immediately," Yadav said in a statement.