Congress signals partial roll back as Trinamool, allies up the ante
Saturday November 05, 2011 10:01:26 AM,
New Delhi: With Trinamool Congress and other United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
constituents upping the ante over the latest hike in prices of
petrol, the Congress Friday sought to contain the damage by
signalling a rethink in the government on the volatile issue and a
possible partial rollback.
Congress sources said the party was not giving due credence to the
stinging attack by Trinamool Congress over "repeated unilateral
decisions" by the government and there could be partial roll back
in the Rs 1.80 increase in petrol prices effective from Friday.
Apart from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who has
sought a meeting with the prime minister on the issue, other
allies of Congress in the UPA also expressed their concern over
the rising cost of petroleum products which have a cascading
effect on transport cost of food items.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and National Conference said
repeated hike in petrol prices burden the common man and they
would raise the issue within the government. The DMK said the
government should consider going back to administered price
mechanism on petrol prices.
Congress sources expressed optimism that the matter would be
resolved after Banerjee meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his
return from Cannes after G 20 meeting.
A Congress leader said Banerjee's meeting with her MPs Friday was
not only meant as a message to the Congress to give her a greater
say in government decisions but also an attempt to shift focus
from the problems being faced by her government in the state. "
"The Maoist problem is rising again and the government has faced
criticism over health care facilities... The good image her
government enjoyed has begun to be affected. There could be an
attempt at some diversion," the Congress leader, who spoke on
condition of anonymity , told IANS.
He said that like many other regional party leaders, Banerjee also
wants to keep a tight grip over elected representatives of her
party and Friday's meeting with party MPs should be seen in this
Congress leaders admitted that any dissensions in the UPA on an
issue such as petroleum prices could cost the party heavily in the
assembly polls to five states - Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand,
Manipur, Punjab and Goa - due to take place in the first half of
Uttar Pradesh is particularly crucial to party as its general
secretary Rahul Gandhi has been guiding the poll effort in the
Trinamool Congress MPs Friday threatened to pull out of the UPA
government to protest the "repeated unilateral decisions" to raise
prices of petro products and coal but Banerjee kept the decision
pending and requested for a meeting with the prime minister.
Trinamool Congress is the second largest constituent of UPA and if
it were to quit the government it will reduce the government to a
minority. The UPA government is already tackling corruption
scandals and high food inflation.
Congress sources also admitted that Trinamool Congress threat is
likely to delay any plans of the government to raise prices of
cooking gas and diesel. The petroleum ministry had signalled its
intention to call a meeting of group of ministers on the issue.
Officially, the Congress sought to downplay the stinging criticism
from Trinamool Congress on the petrol price hike and said the
government would provide "whatever relief possible" and also
address "genuine concerns" by a detailed discussion.
"I read her and other allies' comments as genuine concerns. (The
concerns) will be met after a detailed discussion...," Congress
spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, adding "every element of
coalition will be heard with understanding, compassion and
sensitivity" during discussions in the government.
Top of the Page