Fuelling a futile furore

No doubt, petrol and diesel are politically inflammable issues too. But the hue and cry being raised by political parties of all hues over the latest rate hike is just a smoke screen to hide their own follies and foibles and not borne out of any concern for the people’s plight. If anything their duplicity and double-talk are more painful and frustrating than the big hole in our collective pockets!

The high point of the charade is the attempt to draw a distinction between the government and the parties that run it vis-a-vis the decision to hke prices. Suddenly, Manmohan Singh and Murli Deora are no longer Congressmen but ‘sarkars’! Hence, we see the comic spectacle of the ‘sarkar’s’ petroleum minister calling on ‘Congress President Soniaji’ to solicit her party’s support for the price hike. This, after the ‘Congress’ voiced its protest first and fast against the hike, expecting the world to believe that it too was shocked to boot by the ‘anti-people’ action of ‘sarkarwallas’ like Murli Deora and Manmohan!

Of course, there is no word yet on what the sphinx, running the party in person and the country by proxy has to say on the matter, but it is apparent that she has already been politically insured from the ‘anti-people’ decision of the ‘sarkar’. Indeed, the people of Bharat should learn this fine distinction and remember it too, the next time the Congress of Sonia lays claims to the achievements of the ‘Sardar’s Sarkar’! Or if the much expected rollback happens and is sought to be touted as Janpath’s gift to the Jans! But for starters, why not the ‘agitated’ Congress call for the resignation or dismissal of Deora or Manmohan or for that matter the entire Petroleum hierarchy for this attack on ‘aam aadmi’?

When it comes to dichotomy between principles and practice, one can trust the Leftists to put the maximum distance between the two! The Petroleum Minister is on record claiming that the price hike decision was taken only after due consultations with all constituents of the ruling alliance including the Communists. Yet the communists are painting the country red, shedding barrels of tears for the people sinking in oil. Hitch-hiking with the rulers in private and hitting the streets in protest in public: What a class act by the champions of the under-classes! But such duality has been their hall mark. Take for instance West Bengal where under the red-reformer Budhdhadeb, capitalism reigns supreme. Obviously, there while the communists rule, communism doesn’t!

The BJP too seems to be overflowing with concern for the common man. After India stopped shining on them two years back and instead clouds of confusion hovering above consistently since then, the party suddenly sees a silver lining. Here is one issue on which the party with a difference, but buried neck deep in differences in both its leadership and parivar, can unite on. And an opportunity to prove that it is still alive and kicking too. So what if their own NDA reign of six years saw several such petro hikes which too were justified for the very same reasons that are being paraded now? So while Sidhdhus travel on elephants and BJP activists pull jeeps like bullock carts, the question arises as to who they are taking for a ride!

It is learnt that the current UPA regime has hiked the petro prices seven times. The earlier NDA regmie did it five or six times. But do readers know that there are political parties that have raised the petro prices twelve times or more? Yes there are: the allies! Of whom? Well, of both, the Congress and the BJP. After all, most of the parties which are now part of the UPA figured in the NDA too. In fact, many of them have been in power for almost eight years now and in some cases, even more if you take the, rather pre-historic, United Front government too! Now, are not these parties, having been party to the maximum number of hikes, more anti-people than the Congress or the BJP? Well, whatever, but they too are now on the streets on behalf of the people -for the twelfth time!

Clearly, in their self-serving endeavour not to slip in the oil slick, all political parties are putting up a mock shadow show for public consumption. While opposition parties kick up heat and dust, rulers have always hidden behind barrels of high-sounding macro economic jargon. True transparency of the oil-pricing mechanism remains elusive. The reality is that there is a qualitative change in the current price rise, which has been lost in the frenzy. A new pricing regime has now been introduced under which the oil companies, which include PSUs, private players and probably, even foreign companies, have been given complete autonomy to revise prices of not just petrol and diesel, but also LPG and kerosene.

Though theoretically that may mean reduction in petro prices if the global market softens, it is a historical truth that, once out of the womb of Mother Earth, oil rarely answers her call of gravity, howsoever frantic, and prices are always headed skyward, given the pull of geo-politics. And we are told by petro pundits that even the current prices are highly subsidised. Indeed crude oil can only get cruel!

So, if petro price hike is the true concern of our beloved politicos, cutting across party lines, then our modest advice to them is: Better stay put on the streets permanently!

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Jawahar T R