The Communist Party of India-Marxist on Thursday said the government was not sure of mustering majority in the Lok Sabha and hence was shy of having a debate on price rise under rules which entail voting.
"Under popular pressure, the government is afraid that some of its allies may not support it steadfastly," CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said in New Delhi.
Observing that the government continued to argue that it favoured a debate without voting, he said if the UPA claims it has a numerical majority in Lok Sabha, "then why is it shying away from discussing this issue under rules that require voting?"
"Obviously, the government is not confident of mustering a majority on such a vital issue that is affecting the vast majority of our people very adversely," Yechury said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of party organ 'People's Democracy'.
In any case, the UPA does not command majority in Rajya Sabha and hence cannot afford a discussion in the Lok Sabha under Rule 184 that calls for a vote after the debate. "It cannot, therefore, allow any discussion in the Lok Sabha as well under a rule that entails voting", he said.
Maintaining that three debates on price rise last year had not produced any response from the government, he said it has "brazenly not only refused to take any measures to curtail price rise but, on the contrary, announced further hikes in petroleum products" which fuelled higher inflation and imposed greater burden on the people.
The Left and other opposition parties have been insisting on a discussion under rules that require voting because "we hope to put the pressure on the government to take certain concrete measures to contain this price rise."
Yechury said it was "precisely this pressure that the government is seeking to escape from" and its "anti-people attitude" was resulting in the proceedings of Parliament being continuously stalled.
The CPI-M is demanding withdrawal of the hike in petroleum prices which have been virtually deregulated.
It is also seeking the release of the "huge" amount of foodgrain stocks -- more than double the quantity required for the buffer norm -- to the states for distribution through the PDS outlets at BPL prices.
The party has been demanding ban on speculative futures and forward trading in all essential commodities as these were driving up the prices through speculation, he said.
Yechury also countered Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's assertions in the House justifying hike in petro product prices and their de-regulation, saying "statistics cannot be employed to fool the people." PTI