Deora's announcement to cut fuel prices creates poll row

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New Delhi, Nov 26 : Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora's announcement to cut fuel prices has created poll row between the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleging violation of election code.

The BJP leaders Mukhtaar Abbas Naqvi and Ravi Shankar Prasad approached the Election Commission on Wednesday demanding action against the Petroleum Minister.

Deora had announced on Tuesday a probable cut in fuel prices towards the end of December.

The code of conduct for ongoing assembly elections, bars potentially vote-winning policy moves by any party to woo the voters.

Voters will go to the polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram, New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir over the next few weeks.

The BJP alleged that the announcement would influence the voters in the Assembly polls in six states. It also demanded action against Congress-led UPA Government.

"The Representative Committee today met the election commission regarding the Tuesday's announcement made by the Union Petroleum Minister to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel. We have lodged a complaint against him citing his announcement as a violation of model code of conduct and have asked the Election Commission to initiate action against him and the Congress party to which he belongs and also the Central government. The Election Commission took note of our memorandum and assured us of appropriate action," said Naqvi, Vice-President, BJP.

Crude oil prices have fallen from its July peak of 147 dollar a barrel to 54 dollar on Tuesday, but India has not cut fuel prices, unlike Malaysia, which last week announced a fifth cut in prices.

Elaborating on Deora's announcement Oil Secretary R.S. Pandey had said his ministry would send a proposal for price cuts and related subsidy issues to the cabinet before December 24.

India raised government-set fuel prices by about 10 per cent in early June this year and has continued to sell petrol and diesel at the same price since then.

State-run firms the Indian Oil Corp, the Bharat Petroleum Corp and the Hindustan Petroleum Corp, have resisted moves to cut fuel prices arguing they need to make up for losses incurred earlier when crude prices soared.

Polls in New Delhi are slated on November 29. These elections are expected to be a run down to the forthcoming general elections in early 2009 that would test the political temperature in the country.

ANI

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