New Delhi: With the party and the government coming under attack over the steep hike in petrol price, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy is understood to have met Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and discussed the issue.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of Congress President's concerns over the Rs 7.54 a litre increase and the party hinting at the possibility of at least a partial rollback of the decision.

Reddy, who was in Turkeministan for signing of agreement for TAPI gas pipeline when the third hike in a year and the first in almost seven months was announced, arrived here this evening after cutting short his visit by a day.

Sources said he drove straight from the airport to meet Patel to explain the rationale behind the decision taken by the state-owned oil companies.

State-owned oil firms, who had lost Rs 4,860 crore on not raising prices of the deregulated commodity last fiscal, had lost about Rs 2,400 crore since April as depreciation in rupee wiped away gains made from fall in crude oil prices.

They were losing Rs 6.28 percent litre (excluding local sales tax or VAT) and the "urgency" of raising prices was conveyed by oil marketing companies to Reddy earlier this month.

Sources said the plan was to raise rates after the passage of finance bill in the Parliament but was at the last moment postponed till conclusion of the Budget session. The Budget session of Parliament ended on May 22, which incidentally was also the third anniversary of UPA-II coming to power.

Reddy left for Turkmenistan on his official visit on May 22 and a day later oil firms raised prices by Rs 7.54 a litre in Delhi.


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