A day after the steepest hike in petrol price, the union cabinet meeting on Thursday was marked by the absence of most of the alliance party ministers. Only National Conference leader and minister of new and renewable energy Farooq Abdullah attended the meeting.
Railways minister Mukul Roy chose to lead the protests against the price hike in West Bengal over the cabinet meeting. DMK’s MK Alagiri too, skipped it while NCP clarified that chief Sharad Pawar has gone abroad and Praful Patel had already informed that he would not be coming.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talks with Finance Pranab Mukherjee during the release of a report of United Progressive Alliance titled "Report to the People 2011-2012", on its third anniversary in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo
As ministers from alliance parties are unavailable this week, a meeting of the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on oil prices has now been deferred. Top government sources told HT that the meeting was earlier planned on Friday but Pawar, Alagiri and Roy were unavailable.
The UPA managers decided against discussing the possibility of a price hike in diesel
and cooking gas without taking allies on board.
“It has to be a collective decision to bite the bullet. Being a part of the government, the allies also have to share the responsibilities,” a key minister told HT.
Meanwhile, the government on Thursday withdrew the Telecom Policy 2012 from the cabinet agenda envisaging one nation free roaming following objections by the information and broadcasting ministry.
The I&B ministry had objected to absence of clarity in the proposed policy on who will issue the broadcast licences. The National Telecom Policy 2012 had proposed convergence of networks for providing seamless voice, data, multi-media and broadcast services under the unified license regime.
The cabinet, however, approved a passenger bus service and increase in the number of flights to Myanmar. The Cabinet also approved transfer of expensive equipments, including the aerostat (the large helium balloon), used for the Commonwealth Games, to different government agencies free of cost.