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Congress to protest fuel price hike, to start signature campaign

Reported by: IANS New Delhi 15 Sep 2017, 20:17:09 IST
IANS

The Congress on Friday demanded withdrawal of central excise duties and other taxes on petrol and diesel and said it will hold a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar here on Wednesday to press for this demand. The party dared the government to come out with a White Paper on taxes on fuel and the gains made by oil marketing companies.

Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said the party's Delhi unit will launch a campaign at petrol pumps across the city to protest against the fule price hikes and collect 10 lakh signatures, which will be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Maken said that considering the fall in crude oil prices in the international market, the prices of petrol and diesel should be Rs 34 and Rs 32, respectively.

"While the Modi government has spelled out absurd reasons like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma for the increase in petrol and diesel prices, it has dealt a devastating blow to the savings of the common people by brazenly increasing central excise duty 11 times in the past three and half years," Maken told the media here.

"There has been 133.47 per cent increase in excise duty on petrol and 400.86 per cent on diesel. There has also been an increase in Value Added Tax of 73.34 per cent on petrol and 91.31 per cent on diesel since May 2014 by the Delhi government," he added.

"While the international crude oil prices have come down by more than 52 per cent since May 2014, when Modi government came to power, the petrol prices have skyrocketed to a three-year high.

"With massive hikes in central excise duty, the BJP-led government is filling its coffers at the cost of common man. The government has earned a windfall of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore due to reduction in crude oil prices," Maken added.

"The total contribution of petroleum to central and state exchequers is pegged at Rs 5,24,304 crore in 2016-17," he said.

Maken said the Modi government had also robbed 18.11 crore cooking gas consumers by increasing prices of subsidised cylinders by Rs 75 in three years -- from Rs 412 per cylinder in May 2014 to Rs 487.18 per cylinder now.

"This is being done when the international prices of gas have gone down by 35 per cent in three years," he said.

"The BJP government has not even spared the poorest of the poor. Kerosene prices have recorded a double-digit increase throughout this fiscal," Maken added.

"In July, kerosene prices rose by 31.2 per cent and in August it recorded further increase of 2 per cent."

Maken also hit out at the government for inflation which recorded a five-month high with Retail Inflation (CPI) rising to 3.36 per cent in August from a year earlier.

"The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rose to a four-month high to 3.24 per cent from a year ago. This means food items like fruits and vegetables have become costlier, thus ruining our household budgets. 

"Due to rise in fuel prices, it is natural that the cost of transportation and supply of food items increase, thereby impacting the savings of common people. Food inflation was driven by rising price trends of onion at 88.46 per cent, vegetables at 44.91 per cent, and fruits at 7.35 per cent, and milk at 3.94 per cent."