NCP chief and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar’s support for the recent hike in petrol prices on Sunday must have sounded like music to the UPA government’s ears.
Not only has the government been criticised for the Rs 1.82 increase per litre of petrol by the opposition, but even the UPA’s biggest partner Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress — which has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha — has threatened to withdraw support over the hike.
In stark contrast, Pawar said: “There is no point in blaming the government for the increase in domestic prices (of fuel) as they are related to fluctuations in the international markets.”
Asked to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks that fuel prices should be further deregulated, the NCP chief said Singh was an economist of international repute and that he (Pawar) was not a “super economist” to comment on what the PM said.
On Mamata’s pullout threat, Pawar said, “Our stand is to remain with the government.”
Banerjee claimed that her party and allies such as the NCP and DMK were not consulted on the hike. She has asked all her MPs to reach Delhi by Tuesday to put pressure on the PM to withdraw it.
With PTI inputs