Congress Vs BJP over fuel prices: Here's how the fight continues

Representational Image
Representational Image

Karnataka : The rising prices of petrol and diesel have created tug-of-war between India’s two major political parties Congress and BJP. Both are trading charge and blame over each other, with the Congress promising to make it a poll board in the assembly polls. Ironically, fuel prices have moved slightly downwards in the Karnataka over the past 3-4 days, giving rise to gossips that the Centre has asked oil marketing companies (OMCs) to stop the daily revision of prices till the polls in the state.

Petrol price in the state capital Bengaluru touched Rs 75.19 per litre on April 10, the highest ever price since Rs 76.06 in 2013. But it came down the next day to Rs 75.15 and remained the same on Thursday. On Friday, it dipped to Rs 75.12.

The crude oil prices (Brent), based on which fuel prices are revised daily, however, has elevated from $68.65 per barrel (day's closing) on April 9 to $72.02 on April 12. Officials of the OMCs denied reports that the Centre had told them to keep fuel prices unchanged in the run-up to polls.

For the meantime, Congress has launched a hostile online campaign saying that the BJP-ruled Centre for the rise in prices. In its counter-attack, BJP has asked to put the blame back on Congress, highlighting the fact that the Siddaramaiah-led government did not observe petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan's appeal to shrink local taxes on motor fuels by 5% when the central excise duty was cut by Rs 2 last October. 

CM Siddaramaiah was quick to tweet: "International crude prices have started falling since 2014. From about $110/barrel in 2013 the prices fell to $26/barrel in Feb 2016. But the Modi government has not lowered the petrol/ diesel prices. In fact prices are increasing. Where the money saved is going? #BJPFuelloot."

Soon the Congress online campaign singled out- "Since 2013, while Karnataka's state tax on petrol has been reduced by 17 %, the central tax has increased by 80% from Rs 10.70 per litre to Rs 19.48. What is the rationale behind PM Modi taxing fuel so exorbitantly?" a Twitter post said.

"The BJP-led government seems to be behind the fuel prices remaining stagnant over the past few days. This is another jumla. There will be a big shock once the polls are over," said KPCC social media chairman Srivatsa YB.

"When the crude oil price touched as high as $75 in October last year, the Centre reduced the central excise duty and asked the states to follow suit by reducing the local sales tax. The Congress government in Karnataka did not respond to the call and they have no right to talk about the issue during elections," said BJP spokesperson A Anand, who is also an office-bearer of Karnataka Petrol Dealers Association. "What puts BJP on the defensive is that the Manmohan Singh government granted subsidy to the oil marketing companies so that the retail prices remained low, while the Modi government stopped it and introduced the daily revision of prices," said M Prabhakar Reddy, chairman of All-India Petroleum Dealers Association.