New Delhi: With the hike in petrol prices turning to be a major political issue, the Congress on Wednesday steered clear of senior leader AK Antony's remarks that it was "not a correct step" and the oil companies should have shown some "propriety" before taking the decision.
Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi refused to come out with a categorical response on Antony's remarks despite repeated questions with his refrain being, "Petroleum Minister (S Jaipal Reddy) is competent to answer this question".
Reddy had virtually justified the hike and ruled out any immediate rollback.
Alvi said it was a "very difficult decision" by the oil companies and pointed out that after the de-regulation of petrol prices, the government has no role in such decisions. To a query which of the two - the stand taken by Reddy or Antony - is the stand of the party and the government stand on the issue, Alvi said he will consult the Defence Minister on the issue and then say something on it.
"I will talk to Antony. I will confirm what he has said and then I will respond," he said.
The cautious approach of the party spokesperson came a day before opposition parties, including the Left and NDA, enforce a countrywide general strike on Thursday protesting petrol price hike.
NDA convener Sharad Yadav said the opposition parties do not believe the statement of the government that it will not increase diesel and LPG prices.
"They are saying it because they are under pressure from the opposition now. Their argument that the government has no role in petrol price hike is an eyewash. People's anger on the issue will be visible during the Bandh tomorrow. The opposition is united on the issue," Yadav said.