With the Centre coming under all round attack over the hike in fuel prices, Congress on Saturday turned defensive saying that it was due to compulsions and no government wants to become unpopular.
"There must have been certain compulsions. No government wants to become unpopular," AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters here as the Left-ruled West Bengal and Kerala witnessed day-long strike to protest the hike. The remarks of Dwivedi came soon after the JD(U) urged the entire opposition to join hands for a 'Bharat bandh' on the issue of fuel price hike.
"The council of ministers must have considered all aspects before taking the decision," a senior party leader said. Party sources, however, ruled out the possibility of price rise becoming an electoral issue in the Bihar Assembly elections, expected in October-November this year. "Price rise is hardly a factor in elections. People are more concerned about governance than price rise," a senior party leader said.
The opposition, however, has planned to bring the government in the dock on the issue with JD(U) President Sharad Yadav saying, "The UPA government has not only increased fuel prices but has also decided to hand over the country to the market.Government is under a false impression that the opposition is divided and hence, it can do whatever it likes."
UPA ally and Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee stuck to her demand of a rollback. "The hike in prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene has overburdened the people... I am disturbed," she told reporters and once again appealed to the government to reconsider its decision. Banerjee said she has conveyed her displeasure to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whom she met second time in as many days.
BJP also came down heavily on the government for effecting the hike terming it as a "betrayal".
"The ruling UPA government has betrayed the people...from day one (of Parliament Session), we will take up this issue and oppose it by all means," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said in Chennai. "I think the session would begin in the last week of July... till that time we will fight for rollback of fuel prices on the streets," he said.
Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav too criticised the government terming the hike in prices of petroleum products as a "cruel joke" with common people and demanded an immediate withdrawal of the decision.
"The Centre has failed to check prise rise and yesterday's decision to hike prices of petroleum products is a cruel joke with the common and poor people of the country. It should be rolled back immediately," Yadav said in a statement. PTI