Being wary of its negative image at the time when assembly elections have been declared in five states, the Congress-led ruling dispensation, which is already battling with plummeting popularity owing to the Lokpal logjam, has decided not to hike petrol prices further. Ironically, the government claims that oil companies are free to fix the petrol prices, but when political ambience is not conducive, the ruling party at the Centre interferes in pegging the cost of fuel. Despite falling of rupee against US dollar few days back, oil firms did not get nod to raise petrol price because the winter session was on and the government did not want the Opposition to give it drubbing on this issue. Some time back when petrol price was spiraled up all ministers of UPA chipped in with their points that the government had no control over oil firms for fixing petrol price. The nation knows it very well how the politics is done on economic issues like deciding the cost of fuels. Common man is pretty familiar with the government trick of redeeming losses in diesel sales by petrol.
Undoubtedly, fixing prices of petro-products is a jigsaw puzzle for people. Nobody knows why are different tax and cess slammed on imported petrol? It is also intriguing that petro-products are imported from Gulf countries, but its prices are fixed as per their values estimated in Singapore. Another pertinent question, why is there no competition between three oil companies of the country? It is equally important that there should be a regulatory body for oil companies. Petroleum products are crucial elements of Indian economy, so there should not be politics over them. The government has not raised petrol price owing to public disenchantment in the poll-bound states, but after the assembly elections the petrol price will definitely shoot up. People remember well about similar incident of the past that petrol price was hiked just after the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and West Bengal. Now, there is inkling that the government will play same unclear policy when the assembly elections in five states get over. The politics over petrol price is a kind of violation of model code of conduct and the Election Commission should take cognizance of it.