Fuel price hike: Congress activists hold agitation across Punjab
Leaders and workers manually pulled tractors to underscore the impact of the rise in fuel prices on farmersUpdated: Jun 29, 2020 18:36 IST
The Congress organised a nationwide stir against the rising prices of petrol and diesel on Monday, demonstrations were also held in Sangrur, Patiala, Amritsar, Faridkot, Bathinda and SBS Nagar.
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar led the protests at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. To lodge their protest against rising fuel prices, Jakhar accompanied by local MLA’s Angad Singh, Darshan Lal Mangupur and Youth Congress president Brinder Singh Dhillon pulled a tractor with ropes from Industrial Training Institute (ITI) to the deputy commissioner’s office.
Jakhar said, “The tractor, an instrument of change that brought about the green revolution, has become a cart for farmers as they cannot afford the high prices of diesel.”
“The Centre should applaud the work done by the farmers amid the Covid-crisis as Punjab has produced a bumper wheat crop of 1.27 lakh tones. Instead, the BJP has passed anti-farmer ordinances,” the Congress leader said.
“The prices of fuel have been steadily rising over the last three weeks as the central government has been imposing excise duty on fuel. Thus, for the first time the prices of diesel have exceeded that of petrol,” he said.
“When the Congress was in power in 2014, the price of crude oil was 104 dollars per barrel and the price of diesel was Rs 63 per litre. Now, crude oil is hardly 40 dollars per barrel but still the price of diesel has reached Rs 80,” he said, demanding an explanation from the Modi government.
The 17-rupee difference between the rates during the Congress’ and Modi-government’s terms has put an additional burden of ₹7,000 on the farmers. The Modi government was fooling the farmers when it said that farmers’ income will be doubled.
Referring to the farm ordinances and Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s statement asserting the system of offering minimum support price (MSP) will remain, Jakhar said, “The real question is whether the government will buy the crop or not. The MSP fixed by the Centre for maize is Rs 1,850 in Punjab but farmers were seen selling their produce for Rs 400-Rs 600 per quintal.”
Jakhar and other leaders submitted a memorandum addressed to the President to SBS Nagar deputy commissioner Shena Aggarwal.
YOUTH LEADERS RAISE THE BANNER IN SANGRUR
Members of the Punjab Youth Congress and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) staged a protest at the district administration complex in Sangrur.
The protesters pulled a tractor with a rope to demonstrate the impact of the hike on farmers.
Congress leader Daman Thind Bajwa said businesses had been badly affected due to Covid-19 over the past three months but the government of India had hiked petrol and diesel prices instead of helping the citizens.
“The hike in diesel prices will directly affect farmers, who are already under debt, during the paddy season,” Bajwa said.
‘PRICES INCREASED 20 TIMES IN THREE MONTHS’
Protests were also held in the south Malwa region. Led by senior leaders, Congress workers submitted memorandums addressed to the President demanding withdrawal of the price hike.
In Faridkot, Congress MP Mohammad Sadique said, “In a display of insensitivity, the BJP-led Centre has increased fuel prices around 20 times in three months.”
Congress (urban) Arun Jeet Mal president said people were already suffering due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the fuel price hike was adding to their woes: “It is for the first time that the rates of diesel are higher than petrol. Around 70% diesel is used by the farming and transportation sector. The unprecedented rise in diesel prices will lead to a significant increase in prices of different goods and the common man will bear the brunt,” he said.
NDA FAILED TO CONTROL INFLATION: PATIALA LEADERS
Congress leaders and workers in Patiala handed a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding reduction of fuel prices t Patiala deputy commissioner Kumar Amit.
Patiala district Congress committee president KK Malhotra said, “The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has completely failed to control inflation at a time when people are facing an acute financial crisis due to Covid-19.”
“The union government should immediately reduce fuel prices and give some respite to the common man. The government should lower taxes to control fuel prices,” Malhotra said.
Patiala mayor Sanjeev Sharma Bittu said the crude oil prices were under control but the Centre was hell-bent on increasing fuel prices without taking people’s financial condition into consideration.