ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Oil Prices Laying the Ghost

Oil Prices: Laying the Ghost THE increase in the administered prices of petroleum products, announced at long last by the government this week, must be reckoned as a truly mystifying event. In the first place, it is a mystery why the increase, so long overdue, met with such universal opposition from the political parties, as much those supporting the government as those opposing it. And now it is no less a mystery how the government has been able to effect the increase, because none of the parties has actually changed its position. In fact, all of them, all the way from the Left parties which are part of the ruling United Front, to the Congress which lends its support to the government and to the BJP which is the largest party in the Lok Sabha and constitutes the main opposition, have explicitly reiterated their opposition to the price increases in their present form. What, then, in a so-called parliamentary democracy, is the sanction for the government's decision? One possible explanation is that this was a case of the bureaucracy, recognising that a certain decision was imperative, pushing it through in the face of the known public positions of the political parties. The other is that the parties themselves recognised that the decision was inescapable and had to be taken, but could not bring themselves to admit that the postures they had all along taken on the issue were untenable and chose instead, for public consumption, to stick to them even as they winked at what was actually being done by the government which, with the exception of the BJP and a few lesser parties, they are cither a part of or actively support. Whether it is a case of the one or the other or both, the whole episode does show up the political system and the motivations and attitudes of the political parties in rather less than flattering light.

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