Rahul Gandhi slams Centre over Covid, rising fuel prices
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday drew a parallel between rising cases of the coronavirus disease and prices of petrol and diesel.Updated: Jun 25, 2020 03:04 IST
A day after the Congress announced that it will organise a nationwide campaign against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over increasing fuel prices, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday drew a parallel between rising cases of the coronavirus disease and prices of petrol and diesel.
On Wednesday, fuel retailers raised diesel price for the 18th day in a row by 48 paise per litre, making it costlier than petrol for the first time. Retailers, however, hit the pause button on petrol prices after hiking them for 17 days on the trot.
“The Modi government has ‘unlocked’ the corona pandemic and prices of petrol-diesel,” Gandhi tweeted in Hindi and also tagged a graph captioned, “coronavirus is not the only rising curve”. The graph showed a steady rise in the daily Covid-19 cases and prices of petrol and diesel after the lockdown was relaxed on June 1 with the start of Unlock One.
Pump prices of petroleum have risen by Rs.8.5 per litre since June 7. Diesel prices have increased by Rs 10.49 per litre in 18 days.
The Congress has been attacking the government over the continuous increase in petrol and diesel prices after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed. In Delhi, diesel is being sold at Rs 79.88 per litre while petrol is priced at Rs 79.76 a litre. Retail prices of the two fuels differ from city to city because of variations in local levies.
Executives at state-run oil marketing companies said the main reason for a spike in petrol and diesel prices were high central and state levies that had been imposed when global oil prices were very low.
The central government raised excise duties on petrol and diesel twice – first by Rs 3 per litre each, and later by Rs 10 a litre on petrol and Rs 13 on diesel. A Re-1 per litre hike in excuse duty means an additional revenue of Rs 14,500 crore to the exchequer in a year.
States have also raised value-added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel since mid-March. The Delhi government raised VAT on petrol and diesel to 30% last month; consequently, retail prices of petrol in the state jumped by Rs 1.67 per litre and diesel by Rs 7.10 a litre.
Earlier, state levies on petrol and diesel were 27% and 16.75%, respectively. Diesel in Delhi also attracts an additional Rs 250 per kilolitre air ambience charge.
The ministries of petroleum and finance, and state-run oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) did not respond to queries on the matter.
Domestic consumers have suffered a sustained spike in petrol and diesel rates as global oil prices started moving north after the producers’ cartel, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, particularly Russia (together OPEC+), on June 6 decided to extend record output cuts by one more month till the end of July.
Also on Wednesday, the country witnessed the highest single-day jump of 15,968 Covid-19 cases and 465 fatalities, taking the case tally to 456,183 and the death toll to 14,476, according to the Union health ministry.