Alas, it has yet again betrayed the aam aadmi
The steepest ever petrol price hike in history could not have come at a more appropriate time! At the completion of the three years of Manmohan Singh government, which has stunned the nation with its disdain for peoples’ suffering. Administrative paralysis, corruption and price rise—in every respect it has outsmarted even the infamous Mohammad bin Tuglak of the dark Middle Ages. In a sense the Rs 7.50 petrol price hike has come as the last stab in the back of the tormented common man. It does not make any economic logic to raise the petrol price citing international crude price at a time when the prices are actually falling.
Is it the first time that the crude prices have crossed $100 for the government to charge so much? Petrol is sold the highest in India, higher than even the neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Two years ago when the international crude price was above $120, petrol was sold at around Rs 65 per litre. The only message that comes out of the present hike is that the Manmohan Singh government is cohort with the oil mafia in the country, which is looting the common man and is playing into the hands of the oil cartel which itself is an international racket that violates all accepted rules of globalisation and market economy.
The average Indian is already reeling under the terrible burden of double-digit inflation, falling rupee, vanishing jobs, depressed industrial production and increasing costs of all social sector needs like health and education. Fuelling this anger further is corruption, that has become a serial, unwinding ministry-wise in each episode.
The petrol price hike is unjustifiable. Some economists have been waving it as a major remedy to tackle the illness afflicting the economy.
There has been a clamour for the so-called second generation reforms, wherein financial institutions like banks and insurance companies would be open to foreign cash fishing. The pension funds are sought to be made available for private players. Ever since the UPA came to power, it has been pushing the agenda of IMF-World Bank, a sure recipe for economic slavery. While in the first term, its hands were somewhat tied behind the back because of the Left, in its second term, it has gone about unbridled. With various regional parties like the SP and the BSP, not to mention the TMC supporting the UPA at its most critical tests, the government has floundered on.
Just witness the cocktail of lies the government is dishing out on the petrol price. The Finance Minister repeats like a parrot one line — that the petrol prices are decontrolled and the government has nothing to do with it. How come then, that the oil companies waited for the state elections and the Parliament session to be over to count their losses and take the correctives? If the government has no hand in it, then why is it summoning the oil minister, who was abroad? Does the price hike benefit only the oil companies or is the government using the extra taxes to cover the burgeoning fiscal deficit? Are the Finance Minister and Prime Minister as helpless about the hike as is being made out? These questions we know will never be answered by anyone responsible. For, lack of accountability and answerability has been the hallmark of UPA.
In the three years of UPA II there has been unending cases of corruption, each seeming to outweigh the other. Telecom, defence, coal mining, oil explorations. The Prime Minister is now being directly linked in an issue relating to the oil prices, that would benefit the Reliance, the Mukesh Ambani company by billions of dollars.
According to a report in a leading daily, the government deliberately suppressed the tabling of three CAG reports during the session of Parliament that ended a couple of days back. These reportedly indict the government on allocation of coal blocks, performance of public-private partnership for Delhi airport and Sasan ultra-mega power project. These reports had been with the government since May 11 but were withheld.
While political analysts are wondering how and why the UPA government risked such a major political blunder vis-a-vis the petrol prices, it is possible that the answer lies within the question. That it is a calculated ploy to divert, even temporarily, the attention of the nation from the charges of corruption the UPA is under, with many senior ministers implicated in them. The third year anniversary celebrations of the UPA II flaunted a new ally, the Samajwadi Party, which has been walking in and out of it, depending on the CBI tightening the screw on corruption against Mulayam Singh Yadav. Hence the UPA is feeling emboldened to take on the popular TMC leader Mamta Banerjee.
Manmohan Singh can blame a falling rupee — which itself is the result of his total ineptitude as an economist — and international crude oil price for petrol hike. But what is his explanation for the double-digit inflation. Why is it that the cost of every consumer item across the board has risen by 25 to 50 per cent in the last six months despite good monsoon and bumper harvest. People have come to realise the government the UPA is running is for a selected few at the expense of the large majority which is being made to suffer for the luxury, lassitude and loot of the ruling class. Perhaps this is what the UPA has celebrated on May 23. A carnival of the crooks.