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Government selling national assets for a song: CPI(M)

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH. 15. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today continued its attack on the "India Shining'' campaign and charged that the Government had begun divesting shares in public sector oil companies and selling national assets in this crucial sector for a song.

Releasing documents in its series "Lies, damned lies and statistics,'' the CPI(M) politburo member, Sitaram Yechury, and the Rajya Sabha leader, Nilotpal Basu, said companies in the oil sector were nationalised to protect national assets and use them for "our country's interests rather than profits for foreign capital.''

The party said that with this objective in view, the country had created exploration, refining, marketing and pipeline companies in oil and gas sector which were not only hugely profitable but had become global companies. The CPI(M) said parties such as the Oil and Natural Gas Commission and the Indian Oil Corporation were majors in the sector appearing in the "Fortune 500 list.''

Mr. Yechury said contrary to claims, the retail price for oil and gas had gone up leading to a cascading effect on the input price for other consumer infrastructure, agriculture and such crucial sectors of the economy.

For instance, he said, the price of kerosene had shot up from Rs. 2.58 a litre during October 1998, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister to Rs. 9.02 a litre in January 2004.

Similarly, he said, the price of diesel had gone up from Rs. 10.01 a litre (October 1998) to Rs. 21.73 a litre (January 2004); petrol from Rs. 23.94 a litre to Rs.33.70 a litre and LPG from Rs.135.98 a cylinder to Rs.241.60 a cylinder during the same period.

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