When powers that be leave public high and dry

When powers that be leave public high and dryWhen powers that be leave public high and dry

The recent fuel hike has added an additional burden of Rs 2,60,000 crore on the citizens, poor and middle classes including the farmers in specific

While the entire nation is traumatised with the Covid-19 induced hardships and struggling hard to tide over this crisis with heavy pay cuts, thousands of micro, small and medium (MSME) businesses being shut down and loss of jobs, lack of food etc are making lives miserable for common man, the government seems to be hellbent on making the situation even worse for the civilians, particularly the poor of our country, by hiking fuel prices like never before. In unprecedented times like this, what is expected of the government is to hold people's back and help them get through this crisis by keeping the prices of all goods and commodities to a minimum. Contrarily, the government is on a spree, for the last 23 days, increasing the fuel prices - petrol by Rs 9.47 and diesel by Rs 10.75 and – and has set a record with an all-time high price on fuel. In this situation of health emergency and steep economic decline, isn't it atrocious and inhumane to increase the fuel prices when the civilians are struggling to make their both ends meet? How will this inconsiderate government ever understand the plight of our people who have been going through acute distress physically, emotionally, and financially since the beginning of this fiscal year.

It is horrifyingly wicked that the government, in order to regain its lost revenue from the lockdown induced losses, has decided to hike the excise duty of Rs 10 on petrol and Rs 13 on diesel unlike ever before in the history of Independent India. Though the BJP government has long been known for its absolutely unusual practices and being brutally cynical since the day it has assumed power, it is quite awful that it can even stoop down to this level of devising a plan of action and implementing policies for extorting money from people and crushing the dreams of Navi India. This sudden spike in the fuel prices will subsequently lead to a price rise in all sectors. It will adversely affect the fixed income groups, particularly wage earners. Inflation encourages hoarding of essential commodities leading to generation of black money due to which India could undoubtedly get on the verge of a new great depression.

The recent fuel hike has added an additional burden of Rs 2,60,000 crore on the citizens, poor and middle classes including the farmers in specific. The Congress party has revealed that the government has increased excise duty of Rs 10 on petrol and Rs 13 on diesel on the 6th of May. All the Opposition parties slammed the government for not paying heed to the public's anguish and increasing the excise duty 12 times since 2014 and even during the covid-19 crisis.

Notably, back in 2014 when the Congress was in power, the price of the crude oil was $107.09 per barrel and now in 2020 during the BJP's rule it is available at $34.63 per barrel which is almost thrice less than what it was six years back and implies that the petrol and diesel prices too should drop by 3 times the price in 2014. According to the above figures, one litre petrol should now be available at Rs 35 and diesel at Rs 22 but surprisingly we are paying RS 82.59 for one litre petrol and Rs 77.06 for a litre diesel. Though the crude oil is available at much lesser price at the international level, our smart-alecky government is making the benefits intangible to the people of India by increasing the excise duty exorbitantly.

Noticeably, in 2014 when the crude oil price was $107.09 per barrel, the excise duty was only Rs 9.20 on petrol and Rs 3.46 on diesel. Presently, during the BJP rule, the crude oil price is $34.63 per barrel and the excise duty is Rs 32.98 per one litre petrol and Rs 31.83 per litre diesel which means that the government is collecting 258.47% more excise duty on petrol and 819.94% on diesel. By these wicked means of hiking the excise duty 12 times, the BJP government has collected Rs 17.8 lakh crores from the public, since the beginning of its tenure in 2014. Evidently, we are that one country in the world that pays highest taxes on petrol and diesel which means 70% of the price of the fuel is paid towards the tax and 30% is paid towards the actual price of the fuel.

We are aware that the BJP government has announced a vague and vacuous financial package of Rs 20,00,000 crores which it assumed would be of great help to the people of India in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis. Interestingly, when the govt has professed that it is offering a financial package that is 10% of the GDP, how can it defend the release of only Rs 1,86,650 crores in toto, towards different schemes. Former Finance Minister Dr Chidambaram has exposed the dirty magic and truth behind the number game played by the BJP government.

Conclusively, this RS 1,86,650 crores accounts to only 0.91% of GDP. Strikingly, the BJP government is factually spending only Rs 1,86,650 crore on the public and collecting Rs 2,60,000 crore from them by increasing the fuel prices. The Congress party leaders strongly demanded a quick rollback of the increased fuel prices and suggested to stick to the policy followed by the then Congress government of fixing the price of petrol and diesel according to the crude oil price.

(The writer is formal MLA from Telangana State and Secretary, AICC. Views expressed are personal)

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