Both the Trinamool Congress and DMK softened their stand on the fuel price hike on Tuesday, saying that while they’d like a rollback, they would not undermine the UPA alliance on this issue.
This seems to have strengthened the government’s resolve to stick to its decision of hiking fuel prices — announced in Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget speech last Friday — which it considers inevitable. The hike is likely to stay unless there is a last minute change.
The coalition, assured Trinamool’s Mamata Bannerjee, will continue “despite obstacles”, though she would keep appealing for a rollback even while remaining in the UPA.
“There is no question of the DMK withdrawing support or the alliance breaking up. We are there together and we will go on together,” said the DMK’s Kanimozhi.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ruled out a rollback while returning from Saudi Arabia, saying the economy had the capacity to absorb the increase without setting off an inflationary spiral.
The issue, however, threatens to derail Parliamentary proceedings on Wednesday, with the BJP-led NDA, Left and UPA supporters like the BSP, SP and RJD still opposing the hike.
The opposition by the 47 Lok Sabha members of the RJD, SP and BSP would leave the UPA with a wafer thin majority when the Budget is voted upon. The UPA does not have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha.
On Tuesday, a two-hour meeting of the Congress Core Group, which includes the PM and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, took stock of the situation, including the rollback demand. There was no word on what transpired at the meeting.
But in a signal that the hike may remain, the Congress has so far not asked for pruning prices.