On Sunday, October 7, Union BJP Minister Vijay Goel took out a march on a bullock cart from the Red Fort in Delhi. BJP Minister Goel along with his party workers targeted Kejriwal-led Delhi government for not decreasing fuel prices in the National Capital.
I took out a protest in Chandni Chowk demanding reduction in fuel prices by the State Government. It’s appalling that the AAP has not joined other states in doing so and it’s a gross injustice to all Delhiites. pic.twitter.com/edhP86QIDm
— Vijay Goel (@VijayGoelBJP) October 7, 2018
After criticism from all quarters, the Central government on Thursday, October 4 announced Rs 2.50 rate cut in fuel prices. Soon, several state governments followed suit. However, Delhi is yet to announce a price cut. Notably, Delhi has the lowest fuel rates among all metros and most state capital, as reported by NDTV.
Also, even after the Central government’s price cut, the fuel price rise has not stopped. Between November 2014 and January 2016, the Central government had raised the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 11.77/litre and Rs 13.47/litre in nine instalments. Considering the low price of global crude at that time, the revenue from taxes boosted the nation’s coffers.
Not the first bullock cart rally
Just last month, senior Congress leaders, including Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken took out a bullock cart rally in Delhi, to protest against the rising fuel prices in Delhi.
Reportedly, Maken also took to Twitter and even wrote to Delhi CM, asking him to reduce the taxes on fuel. He went on to accuse the Kejriwal government of conspiring with the BJP in keeping the fuel prices high.
Kejriwal conspired with the BJP to increase VAT on Petrol by 7% & Diesel by 4.5%
If Kejriwal brings down the VAT to the levels of December 2013, Petrol will come down by Rs 8.38/litre & Diesel by Rs 6/Lt
Just bring down the VAT to the levels as charged by Congress in 2013! pic.twitter.com/r3DzGbNz4J
— Ajay Maken (@ajaymaken) October 6, 2018
Fuel prices in Delhi
Today, October 8, the price of petrol in Delhi is Rs 82.03/litre as compared to Rs 83.87 in Kolkata, Rs 87.50 in Mumbai, and Rs 85.26 in Chennai. The taxes levied by Delhi, even without a cut, are on the lower end of the spectrum when compared to the other states.
On October 4, after the Centre announced the price cut, Delhi CM Kejriwal pointed out that a cut of only Rs 2.5 is meagre when compared to the excise duty hike over the years.
मोदी सरकार ने एक्साइज़ ड्यूटी 10 रुपए प्रति लीटर बढ़ाई और मात्र 2.50 रुपए आज कम कर दी? ये तो धोखा हुआ। केंद्र सरकार को कम से कम 10 रुपए प्रति लीटर की कमी करनी चाहिए। https://t.co/WqBzarLLaD
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 4, 2018
The Logical Indian Take
In India, the final price of fuel paid by a consumer is the total of the price charged to dealers + dealer commission + central excise duty + state VAT. In all, the burden of tax on a consumer is close to 50% in the Indian context.
India does not have enough oil resources so we import the bulk of our fuel to satiate the need of the 132 crore Indians. External factors are hence more pertinent when it comes to understanding how fuel price rise happens, as has been pointed out many times by ruling party members at the Centre. However, when the global crude oil prices were at a record low in the last few years, the excise duty on fuel was hiked multiple times by the BJP government. While taking advantage of the low international prices, policies could have been initiated to act as a safeguard against any future price rise. Hence, it is not a frivolous question to ask why the government had a merry time when the international fuel prices were low but is now reluctant to provide any relief to the Indian citizens.
Moreover, the fuel prices have become a political issue especially in light of the upcoming elections and keeping in mind the plight of the citizens. However, when political parties try to manipulate the situation by using blame-game politics then it is concerning that whether anyone has any plan to keep the fuel prices in check or it’s all just talk to get political mileage.
Just last month, BJP on its official Twitter handle tried to give the ‘truth of hike’ in fuel prices but the misleading infographic generated a lot of deserving backlash.
Truth of hike in diesel prices! pic.twitter.com/gF7CWHeiti
— BJP (@BJP4India) September 10, 2018
Though the revenue of both the centre and the states increased with the hike in taxes, the Centre benefitted more considering the fixed amount of excise duty irrespective of the crude oil price.