Govt may offer token rollback of diesel price hike: Report
Against the backdrop of the demands of allies and the opposition for a rollback of the hike in prices of petrol and diesel, the top brass of the Congress met today to discuss the issue and consider various options before the government. Price rise: Full coverageUpdated: Mar 02, 2010, 21:44 IST
Against the backdrop of the demands of allies and the opposition for a rollback of the hike in prices of petrol and diesel, the top brass of the Congress met on Tuesday to discuss the issue and consider various options before the government.
Sources, however, indicated that at this juncture, the government at the most could effect a token rollback on diesel prices and the price of petrol would not be touched keeping in view the strong sentiments of the MPs who walked out of the Lok Sabha as soon as the Finance Minister announced the proposal in the Budget.
The party and the government kept its options close to the chest and they did not reveal the strategy to meet the demand of their allies Trinamool Congress and DMK.
The Congress Core Group, which comprises Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party President Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister AK Antony and Political Secretary to the Congress President Ahmed Patel, deliberated on the issue for almost two hours.
The Prime Minister has ruled out any rollback while returning from Saudi Arabia saying the economy has the capacity to absorb the increase without triggering an inflationary spiral.
"Any increase in prices does hurt some people, but we have to take a long-term view," the Prime Minister told reporters accompanying him on his way back home from Saudi Arabia when asked about growing concerns over the recent hike in oil prices and the ripple that it may have.
A meeting of the Congress MPs from both Houses with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled on Wednesday in which the party will sense the mood of the MPs on the delicate issue.
During the meeting, Mukherjee will brief the MPs on the budget proposals and he is likely to touch the issue of petroleum product hike and discuss it with them.
The Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) would also meet on Thursday with Sonia Gandhi addressing the MPs on the current political situation, price rise and other issues.
UPA allies DMK and the Trinamool have softened their stand on the issue making it clear that there is no threat to the government.
"We are in the UPA government and we will continue to be in it," Trinamool chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata.
In Chennai, Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK chief minister M Karunanidhi, also spoke in a similar vein.
"There will be different points of view in a coalition government but it doesn't mean that the alliance has to break. We work together in so many other issues and we have so many common beliefs which keep us together. I think that is more important," she said.