Price Hike and Political Opportunism

I am sure all of you know by now that the Central Government has hiked the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs. 4 / litre and Rs. 2 / litre. Its not a surprising move considering International petroleum prices have been rising steadily and the Government had to put off this decision due to the recent assembly elections. But what I want to point out is the political opportunism demonstrated by the various parties when this hike was announced.

Let me start of with the Left parties. Both the CPM and CPI have decided to hold demonstrations across the country to protest the hike. Now, if they were so concerned about this move they could have played hardball with the Government just like they did on the disinvestment issue and this could have at least caused the Government to partially rollback the hike. But they instead chose the easier alternative of holding demonstrations.

The next party that deserves special mention is the BJP. Just to refresh your mind, previously hiking of petroleum prices was done only during the Budget. This was changed during the previous BJP government (by Petroleum Minister Ram Naik) in order to minimize the steep losses by the national petroleum companies. So clearly the BJP understands the economics behind such a hike. But still they want to play petty politics by opposing this move.

Our own Dravidian parties behave no differently on this issue. The DMK which has more than 10 ministers at the Centre still oppose this hike. If they are so concerned they should withdraw all their minister from the Centre if the hike isn't rolled back. Same can be said of the ADMK. During the last price hike the ADMK was in government in the state. They could have reduced sales tax of petroleum products in the state if they wanted to reduce the burden on the people. But they convienently ignored this option.

Such political opportunism is bad for our country. After all the prices of petroleum products are largly determined by the International market and the Centre has no control over it. Parties should show courage in the future and should refrain from politicizing such moves. Politics should not come in the way of pragmatic economics!

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