With Lok Sabha elections expected before May, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora announced the onset of the poll season by talking of the possibility of further reduction in fuel prices and hinting of a cut in the price of cooking gas by Rs 20-25 per cylinder.
“We will try to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel in the next two to three weeks,’’ he told reporters at the Congress headquarters, where he addressed a meeting of the Mahila Congress. He, however, did not specify the amount of reduction in fuel prices.
On the question of cooking gas prices, he said: “There was loss on that count to the government.” He, however, hinted at a reduction of Rs 20-25 per cylinder.
Deora’s remarks has boosted the morale of the Congress workers buoyed by the party’s victories in Delhi, Mizoram and Rajasthan, besides its role as the kingmaker in Jammu & Kashmir.
As part of the preparations for the Lok Sabha polls, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is expected to set up her crack team by reshuffling AICC officebearers and their portfolios.
Senior leaders A.K. Antony, Oscar Fernandes, Motilal Vora and Mohsina Kidwai are holding temporary charge of the states that were earlier handled by Ashok Gehlot (who is now Rajasthan Chief Minister) and Margaret Alva (who had to quit as general secretary after she alleged that party tickets were sold during the Karnataka assembly polls).
The new entrants may be from among the Rajya Sabha MPs so that the Lok Sabha members, who may be renominated, can focus on their campaigns. Of the 17 existing general secretaries/states-in-charge, 10 are from the the Rajya Sabha while leaders like Digvijay Singh, Veerappa Moily and Mukul Wasnik are not MPs.
However, to boost the party’s prospects, some Rajya Sabha MPs may also be fielded. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, for one, is keen to enter the Lok Sabha.