A day after the steep hike in petrol prices, the UPA government came under sharp attack on Friday from both its constituents and the Opposition and deferred indefinitely the move to limit the supply of subsidised cooking gas.
The allies - the Trinamool Congress, DMK and NCP - demanded a rollback of the Rs 3.14-a-litre hike. DMK sources said the party decided not to send its representative, chemicals and fertilisers minister MK Alagiri, to the meeting.
Cartoon: No petROLL BACK?
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amid speculation that the two discussed "a way out".Later, the Congress core group met at Singh's residence - party president Sonia Gandhi was not present - to discuss the impact of the hike and how to ease the pressure.
It was especially the allies' resentment that reportedly forced the government to cancel the meeting of an empowered group of ministers to decide on a ceiling on the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders.
A proposal to hold the meeting on September 30 had to be shelved due to non-availability of the members and festive season. The meeting is unlikely before October 7.
Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee made known her opposition to the hike when information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni called on her in Kolkata.
"The hike will have a cascading effect on the prices of other commodities and pinch the common man, particularly the rural poor," NCP general secretary DP Tripathi said.
But a worried Congress put up a defence, saying the move was "inevitable" and carried out by the oil marketing companies on the basis of "no profit, no loss".
It asked the government to find a way out to reduce the common man's miseries.