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Is PM with oil companies or people, asks BJP

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) With the government citing under-recoveries by oil companies as a reason for the fuel price hike, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify whether his priority lay with the oil companies or the poor.

Briefing media persons here about the preparations for the combined opposition-sponsored ‘Bharat Bandh’ July 5, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi should answer why Manmohan Singh, despite being an economist, has failed to curb soaring prices.

Charging Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi with ‘keeping mum on this vital issue’, he said the government ‘does not have even a proper count of the number of poor people in the country’.

The BJP chief wanted Manmohan Singh to answer why prices of food items were spiralling despite the government’s claims of increase in production and on the credible steps it had taken to curb the price rise.

He said committees formed by the government had suggested that the number of poor in the country had risen and a substantial section of population earned less than Rs.20 a day.

Gadkari said the government should promote bio-fuels and that ethanol can be added to the extent of 22.5 percent in petrol and 15 percent in diesel.

‘Why (does) the government not promote this?’

Blaming the price rise on the ‘wrong policies’ of the government, he said sugar had been exported at almost a third of the price at which it was imported.

He said foodgrains worth Rs.1,800 crore were wasted due to inadequate storage capacity.

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