New Delhi: The Congress dubbed the BJP government claims on petrol as white lies. Countering the BJP, Randeep Singh Surjewala said the average crude oil price during Manmohan Singh’s tenure was $107 per barrel while it is $50 in Modi’s four years. That is 55% less, but instead of giving benefit to the people, the excise levied on petrol has increased by 210% and on diesel by 443%, to collect Rs 11 lakh crore.
“This is profiteering by the government,” he asserted while releasing the balance sheets of the State-run oil companies to expose the Government’s claim. Arguing that the economy has been ruined by “Modinomics,” Surjewala asked: “If people are being fleeced because of international factors, why are the states ruled by the BJP collecting 25 to 30% VAT on petrol & diesel? They have Rs 5000 crore for Modi’s publicity and Rs 1800 crore to splurge on his foreign tours but no money to provide relief to people. Do you know Rs 60 crore per month is spent only on changing photographs of Modi on petrol pumps every year across the country?”
Seizing the opportunity, more than 20 opposition parties from hitting the road on Monday to enforce an all-India 6-hour bandh. It evoked a mixed response. The left parties had organised a separate protest refusing to join the Congress street action. Mamata, too, stayed out of the ambit of the bandh. Result: Banks and government offices functioned without hiccups but in some places the fear of strong arm tactics forced people to down the shutters of their establishments. This was especially true of Mumbai, which also reported a poor attendance in offices. Violence was reported from Bihar, Gujarat and Pune.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who has just returned from the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, spearheaded the agitation. Addressing a meeting at Ramlila ground, where he was joined by Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul pointed out that Modi was extremely vociferous on the issue of petrol prices before 2014. But today he is mum even as the prices keep rising — A gas cylinder that would cost Rs 400, is now selling for Rs 800.
The left parties had organised a separate protest but CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri and leaders made it a point to join the public meeting at Ramlila Grounds. There were peaceful demonstrations at all petrol pumps in the national Capital. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who too joined the Opposition bandwagon, said the government has completely failed to serve the nation. “Fuel prices are hitting a record high. BJP leaders had all the solutions when they were in opposition. Looks like the cat got their tongue once they came to power.’’