Congress Bharat Bandh evokes mixed response; BJP calls it failure

Gladys Abbott
September 11, 2018

Opposition parties led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi started a march from Rajghat to Ramlila Maidan here to protest against the rising prices of petrol and diesel.

Retail prices of fuels vary depending on local taxes, dealer commissions and the costs incurred in transporting them from refineries. The price of diesel rose to Rs 77.32, also an increase of Rs 0.23. In Mumbai, petrol has crossed the Rs 88 mark. Today, the price at which the state gets a litre of petrol is Rs 58.25.

Similarly, it has also shared the increase in diesel prices and the percentage hike in 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2018 respectively.

"We are pained to note that such important issues like fuel price hike, inflation and falling rupee that affect every citizen have not figured in the BJP's national executive and they are still giving empty slogans".

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CM Chandrababu Naidu announced cut-off in petrol and diesel prices by Rs 2 in Andhra Pradesh, after Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan on the day nationwide shutdown called by oppositions.

The party said bringing fuel under Goods and Services Tax will lead to a drop of Rs 15-18 in fuel prices. The Centre levies a total of Rs 19.48 per litre of excise duty on petrol and Rs 15.33 per litre on diesel. Fuel prices in Delhi are the cheapest among all metros and most State capitals due to lower taxes. The government is of the view that a weak rupee along with high worldwide crude oil prices can impact fiscal deficit as well as current account deficit. Kerala also has the ninth highest sales tax and other state levies on diesel, at 23.81 per cent; Andhra Pradesh imposes the highest at 28.08 percent (it had recently reduced it from 30.82 percent).

For now, the government has been non-committal on calls to cut taxes. Delhi charges a Value-Added Tax of 27 per cent on petrol and 17.24 per cent on diesel. The Central government had raised excise duty on petrol by Rs 11.77 a litre and that on diesel by 13.47 a litre in nine installments between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then cut the tax just once in October a year ago by Rs 2 a litre.

The Centre on Monday ruled out an immediate reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel but indicated that it could consider options of selling NRI bonds or deposit schemes to foreigners to stem the slide in the rupee.

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