With India fuming over diesel price hike, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday justified the government's stand, saying it would spruce up the economy.
"The recent increase in diesel prices is an important step in the right direction," the Prime Minister said in the national capital.
Singh also stressed the need for a comprehensive review of energy policy saying it was vital for energy security of the country. "It is a difficult area where policy needs a comprehensive review. We are energy deficient and import dependence is going up. It is vital for our energy security that we increase domestic production and also increase the energy efficiency," he said.
The Prime Minister added, "Rational energy pricing is therefore critical. Our energy prices are out of line with the world prices. "
India Friday witnessed protests against the sharp rise of 14 percent in the price of diesel by the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
The rise of five rupees (10 U.S. Cents) was the first such hike in diesel price by the government in recent times, which it said was meant to cut the country's budgetary deficit. India subsidises the prices of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene oil in order to help the poor people of the country as well as to keep inflation in control.
But, the country's main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accused the government of conspiring with fuel mafia and condemned the price hike.
"This is a cruel joke on the common man in the country. It has hit farmers hard during the peak paddy sowing season. We will not allow this hike. We will not allow this government to loot the common man like this," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told the media in the national capital.
Even UPA allies like the eastern state of West Bengal's Trinamool Congress, southern India's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and eastern state of Bihar's Rashtriya Janata Dal also asperses the government, demanding an immediate rollback. Some have indicated pulling out of the ruling coalition over the government's decision which they say will hit the common man.