New Delhi, Nov 26 (UNI) Petroleum Minister Murli Deora finds himself in the midst of political storm with the Election Commission (EC) serving a notice on him today for his remarks on fuel price cut and scathing criticism from the BJP and Left parties, even as he assiduously waived off questions on the subject.
At the Economic Editors Conference here, Mr Deora was flooded with questions from journalists on the subject, but the Minister revealed little beyond what he had stated yesterday. He appeared to be ill at ease with questions of this nature.
Mr Deora, however, denied reports stating that he had written a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi about the possibility of bringing down prices of petrol and other petroleum products.
The Minister, however, confirmed that his Ministry will go before the Cabinet with a comprehensive note relating to the oil sector, including various price scenarios and the consequential under-recoveries that Oil Marketing Companies(OMCs) will face.
In other words, it means that the Ministry will send its proposals to the Cabinet for a possible price fuel price cut. The Minister said he was not in a position to indicate as to when this would be done.
Mr Deora had stated yesterday that fuel prices will be slashed after the Assembly polls, and the time gap was necessary as the Election Commission's code of conduct was in force due to elections in six States.
Mr Deora, however, indicated to reporters yesterday the quantum of the reduction.
Reports, however, said in a two-page letter to Mrs Gandhi, Mr Deora had proposed a Rs 5 cut in petrol prices and Rs 20 on every LPG cylinder. The note reportedly said oil companies would be comfortable with such a price reduction in view of tumbling of international oil prices.
Oil Secretary R S Pandey, who was assisting his Minister, said the OMCs face significant under-recoveries. The over-recoveries on petrol and diesel is Rs 4,600 crores, on account of LPG the under-recovery is Rs 10,000 crores and Kerosene they stand at Rs 8,700 crores.
The Election Commission has asked the Minister to clarify by tomorrow his comments on the subject. The BJP, the staunchest rival of the ruling party is the Assembly elections, had filed the complaint before the Commission in this regard.
The Opposition's charge is that the move to slash prices is not based on economic logic. The BJP alleged that the timing of the move is in violation of the election code of conduct.
Mr Deora at the Conference, however, took on the BJP saying that on the one hand they have been clamouring for bringing down prices and on the other were critical of him and had gone to the Election Commission.
At the same event, Mr Deora denied that he had received any notice from the Commission.
The notice was served to the Minister's office after the Economic Editors Conference.
Mr Dora was asked that what has changed in the situation when just a a few days ago, the Prime Minister said it was not possible to reduce the prices of oil.
To this the Minister said that there is a frequently a change in the prices of oil.
All said and done, the government appears to be committed to bringing relief to the consumers and sooner or later it will go in for a fuel price reduction.
UNI SBA-GS SG HS1927