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After consistent fuel price hikes that have infuriated voters, the Congress party wants petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily not to raise the price of petrol and diesel in the next two months when the country votes for a new government.
While Moily has guaranteed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that an increase in petrol price was unlikely, he said it was impossible to reverse the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) in January 2013 that allows oil marketing companies to raise diesel price by 40-50 paise per litre each month until the under-recovery was wiped out.
Moily assured the Prime Minister on March 21 that an analysis of petrol pricing mechanism, in consultation with the OMCs, had shown that it is likely that the price of petrol will not be increased during the next two months.
But on capping diesel price, he wants an approval from the Election Commission (EC) on reversing the CCPAs decision of January 2013 as the model code of conduct was in force.
Any new proposal to the CCPA, he wrote, would need prior EC consent also because one of its members had been quoted as saying that the commission would certainly look into the issue in case the government decided to discontinue with the monthly increase on diesel price.
Besides the EC threat, Moilys rationale for continuing with the diesel price hikes is that the oil marketing companies were currently incurring an under-recovery of Rs 8.37 per litre on the fuel even though the marginal price increases since January 2013 had resulted in an overall raise of Rs 8.33 per litre.
In view of the above, it is not possible to discontinue the monthly increase in diesel price at this point of time unless a No Objection is obtained from the Election Commission and the earlier decision of January 17 is reviewed by the CCPA, says Moilys letter to the Prime Minister.
The PMO may advise the ministry on the further course of action, he added, putting the onus of maintaining status quo in diesel price on the Prime Minister. There has been no formal response from the Prime Ministers Office, said sources.
The country votes for a new government at the Centre in nine phases that start on April 7 and end on May 12. The recent drubbing of the Congress party in three out