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Mukherjee briefs Congress MPs on diesel, petrol prices

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday indicated that there would no rollback in increase in central taxes on petrol and diesel and briefed the Congress MPs on the reason behind the hike.

Party sources said the minister briefed the party MPs in view of demands of a rollback from some partners of the United Progressive Alliance, and spoke of the steps taken to enhance spending on the social sector.

He said taxes on petrol and diesel had last year been reduced to offset steep increase in international prices of crude oil, and the announcement in the budget had restored the taxes to the original level.

The minister told the MPs that he had sought to increase purchasing power of the middle classes through income tax concessions in the budget and the government needed to mop up resources for its rural and social sector welfare programmes, sources said.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left, as well as government’s own allies in the UPA, have criticised the move.

The Samajawadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party besides the Trinamool Congress and the DMK have opposed tax restoration to the original level.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will address a meeting of the party MPs Thursday.

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