‘Opposition making petrol price hike a political issue’ (Lead)

May 31st, 2012 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Ambika Soni New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government Thursday slammed opposition parties for the nationwide shutdown over the recent petrol price hike and said they should instead work with the government to protect the common man from the challenges being faced by the Indian economy.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here that the opposition was making the petrol price hike a political issue.

“The opposition is making a political issue out of the petrol price hike… It should instead work with the government to protect the common man from the challenges being faced by the Indian economy and the price rise,” Soni said, reacting to a question on the call for shutdown by Bharatiya Janata Party, Left parties and some other parties.

Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said the opposition-sponsored shutdown had caused a huge loss to the exchequer besides hardships to the common man.

She said the call for shutdown was “outdated in today’s time”.

“The very purpose of shutdown has been defeated. Common man including fruit sellers, flower sellers… they have suffered losses in sales. What about patients, auto-drivers? It would have been nicer if the opposition had made suggestions how to deal with the challenge (of hike in petrol prices),” Chowdhury told IANS.

Petrol prices were last week hiked by around Rs.7.50 per litre triggering protests from opposition parties.

Chowdhury said turbulence in the world economy had impacted country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth but added that constant recrimination by the opposition and media’s response to “half-baked nonsense” of Team Anna had not helped improve investor sentiment.

The GDP growth slumped to 6.5 percent for 2011-12 financial year, official data showed Thursday.

“There is turbulence in the world economy today. It is bound to impact us. Given the constraints, it (the economy) is still buoyant at 6.5 percent,” Chowdhury said.

The Congress spokesperson said the party was also concerned about price rise, and all steps would be taken to provide succour to people.

She denied claims by the opposition that response to shutdown was “spontaneous and overwhelming” and said closure of shops was not voluntary.

Chowdhury said people were fed up with violence and did not want to risk confrontation with “hoodlums”.

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