Pranab woos Mamata on petrol price hike

Seeking to placate the TMC, FM Pranab Mukherjee said it was "perfectly legitimate" for any UPA ally to express concern on petrol price hike issue.

Kolkata: Seeking to placate the Trinammol
Congress, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said it was
"perfectly legitimate" for any UPA ally to express concern on
issues like petrol price hike.

"It is perfectly legitimate for any political party which
is a constituent of UPA to express concern on any issue and to
discuss it with the Prime Minister. They have done exactly
that," Mukherjee told newsmen here after threat by UPA`s
second largest ally Trinamool Congress to pull out of the
ruling coalition at the Centre over hike in petrol price.

On Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee`s stating
that the matter would be taken up with the PM after his return
from abroad, Mukherjee said, "They will take up some of their
concerns with the PM. I don`t find anything wrong with it."

Without referring to Trinamool`s allegation that the
party was not consulted before the petrol price hike,
Mukherjee said, "There is an EGoM. It consists of the
representatives of all political parties which have a member
in the union cabinet. Our partners in the coalition are

"Sometimes they come to the meeting (of EGoM), sometimes
they don`t. That is a different question. But they are
members. All four partners of the UPA have representative in
the EGoM.

"Only the price of petrol which was deregulated has
increased. It (deregulation) did not take place today, the
decision was taken on June 28, last year," he said at the
National University of Juridical Sciences.

Stating that the UPA government has taken note of the
protests by various political parties, Mukherjee said,
"Naturally, when price is hiked and if it hits the people, the
people will react. They don`t like to listen to economic

"Oil companies think that their financial situation is
such that they will not be able to import crude if their
financial health is totally broken," Mukherjee remarked.

He said the combined loss of BPCL and HPCL in the first
six months of the current fiscal was Rs 12,000 crore and IOC
was also likely to be in the red.

"If the oil companies are in the red, will they be able
to raise resources from market? Will they be in a position to
import crude that is required?", he asked.

He said an in principle decision (to deregulate) diesel
was taken, but it was decided that it would not be

Asked about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s statement on
moving more in the direction of deregulation of fuel prices,
Mukherjee said, "PM is the head of government and he is an
eminent economist.

"Naturally he spoke from the economist`s point of view.
As when decisions (on deregulation) are taken, it will be
communicated to you."

On whether he would advise states to reduce taxes on
petroleum products, the minister replied, "it is dangerous to
comment on it. The moment you say don`t impose taxes, they
(states) will ask from where will we get money.

"Regarding petrol, I am not advising anything to the
states," he said.


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