On Fuel Price Hike, Some Friendly Fire From Mayawati

A Congress-BSP alliance is crucial in Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of MLAs to parliament

New Delhi: 

The countrywide strike over fuel prices has exposed yet another faultline within the united opposition. Mayawati, the scheduled caste powerhouse from Uttar Pradesh clubbed the Congress with the BJP where fuel hike is concerned a day after West Bengal Chief Mamata Banerjee expressed her reservation about the way the strike was announced.

While berating the BJP over the fuel price hike today, the former Chief Minister said, “My party considers both BJP and the Congress responsible for the rise in prices of petrol and diesel”.

The BJP, she said, was implementing a “wrong financial policy” made by the Congress instead of withdrawing it. “In October 2010, during the UPA 2 regime took the decision to free petrol from government rules. Diesel was also kept out of government’s purview,” she said. This, she said, had affected farming.

The sharp criticism from the scheduled caste leader comes as its differences with the Congress over an alliance in the three BJP-ruled states going to polls later this year remains unresolved.

Mayawati has made it clear that an alliance can happen only if her party is given a respectable number of seats – a stance that has divided the Congress camp.

While Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh agree that an alliance with Mayawati will help the party, leaders from Rajasthan contend it would be beneficial for the BSP and injurious for the Congress in the long run. At the same time, an alliance with her is crucial in Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of lawmakers to parliament.

Yesterday’s strike did not have the participation of Trinamool Congress as well. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said while she supports the cause, her government was opposed to strikes as a matter of principle.

But in her conversations with reporters, Ms Banerjee had made her displeasure clear, pointing out that there was “no discussion” before the Congress called the strike. “But never mind…I won’t say anything out of courtesy,” she added.


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