As inflation dips, Cong wants diesel prices slashed

International crude prices have declined by 20% in past four months

New Delhi : There are strong reasons for the Modi government to be in a self-congratulatory mode as the wholesale price index for September 2014 has dipped to a new low of 2.38 percent. It stood at 7.05 percent in the same month last year.

Given this data, union finance minister Arun Jaitley expressed optimism about achieving “low and stable inflation,” as he claimed credit for bringing food inflation under control.

However, the Congress slammed the Modi government for turning a blind eye to inflation. “BJP should bring down the price of diesel to its December 2010 levels. It would be a strong anti-inflationary step, but the government is profiteering from international trends,” claimed party spokesman Ajoy Kumar.

Kumar pointed out that there has been steady decline of 20 percent in international crude oil prices over the last four months, and the Modi government has allowed the public sector oil marketing companies to earn “obnoxious profits” instead of letting the consumers gain from this international trend. “The current crude oil prices at 88 dollars a barrel are the same as the ones prevailing in December 2010. At that time the retail price of diesel in Delhi was Rs.37.75 per litre, and now the price is Rs.58.97 per litre,” he said while demanding that in the fitness of things the government should go back to the December 2010 price for diesel.

Citing that the oil companies have been making substantial profits under this situation, he said:” “What is the need for the government to allow such obnoxious and windfall profits to the oil companies. We want to tell the government that such obnoxious profits are not acceptable.” He also dismissed as ‘lollipops’ the small reduction of 50ps or Re 1 per litre that the government offers to the people as a grand gesture of generosity.

Even as the Congress spokesperson, a retired IPS officer from Jharkhand making his debut on the party forum, was specific about the quantum of reduction in diesel prices, he was not forthcoming about the same issue with regard to petrol prices. “In the international market, there is a parity between diesel and petrol prices, but I cannot make a comment without studying this issue about petrol prices,” he added.

Despite that, diesel prices in the country have increased by Rs 2.26 since that time, he said. It is only logical that the prices in the domestic market are also brought down in keeping with the corresponding slide in international rates, Kumar added. “The NDA government has raised diesel prices by 3.9 % on four different occasions since assuming power. When international prices were at similarly low levels 46 months back, the price in the domestic market in Delhi was Rs 37.75 per litre,” stated Kumar.

Sold at Rs 56.71 per litre when the NDA coalition entered office, diesel today is available at Rs 58.97 per litre in Delhi, he said. “Isn’t the government aware that diesel-driven inflation is something that adversely affects the largest section of the population?… Why is the government not reducing diesel prices? What is keeping it from passing on the benefits (of the drop in prices) to ordinary

Indians?”, he asked.

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