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Mamata Banerjee a respected and important ally of UPA: Ambika Soni

Her statement came after the UPA partner registered strong protest with the Centre against the petrol price rise.

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DNA Web Team

Updated: Sep 16, 2011, 09:11 PM IST

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Despite the Trinamool Congress' protest against the petrol price hike and stiff opposition to any increase in LPG price, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni today described it as "an important and respected ally" which would be consulted on all important issues.

"The Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee is a respected and an important ally and we would like to take her along with us and talk to her on all important issues," Soni told reporters on the sidelines of the annual convocation of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute here.

Her statement came after the Trinamool Congress, the second largest partner of the UPA, registered strong protest yesterday with the Centre against the petrol price hike alleging it was not consulted before its announcement.

The I&B minister clarified that petrol had been decontrolled and as such it was not in the hands of the government.

"However, it is unfortunate that it has happened," she said.

Referring to the high inflation rate, she said the prime minister and the finance minister were "sensitive" to the problem being faced by the common people.

"They have assured of taking some steps to bring down the high rate of inflation," she said.

Banerjee, who did not make any comment yesterday on the petrol price increase, said during the day that frequent rise in the prices of the fuel was not desirable.

"We don't want another petrol price hike and we have already conveyed our viewpoint to the Centre," Banerjee told reporters at the secretariat.

She said frequent hikes pushed up prices of essential commodities and this had been conveyed to the Centre through the party's All-India General Secretary Mukul Roy.

Expressing opposition to an LPG price hike, she said that her party did not stop with just protesting, but gave relief to common people in the past, whereas the CPI(M) never did anything for them when prices were raised when the party was in power.

Banerjee referred to the reduction of VAT on LPG by Rs16 per cylinder by her government in the previous instance of petrol and LPG price hike.

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