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Mudda discusses the rising fuel prices and government step to cap them; many hold NDA culpable for these spiraling out of control

Petrol and diesel prices have gone up by Rs 2.84 a litre and Rs 2.60, respectively, since May 14 when the 19-day hiatus due to the Karnataka elections ended. Petrol is now priced at Rs 77.47 rupees a litre and diesel at Rs 68.53 a litre in Delhi. The minister blamed it on the fall in oil production in OPEC countries and the US pull-out from the Iran nuclear deal.

Thursday’s edition of Mudda, APN’s current affairs show, discussed the issue. Moderated by Anant Tyagi, the guests were BJP leader Anand Sahu, Congress spokesperson Onkar Nath Singh, economist Akash Jindal, petroleum expert Rajesh Kumar, senior journalist Kulsum Mustafa and APN consulting editor Govind Pant Raju.

Sahu said the international markets govern the prices in India and the central government is trying its best to control the taxes on crude oil. But experts state a different truth.

Jindal said: “Diesel is one of the lifelines to the farmers. Now it is almost at its highest price. How will they afford it? Secondly, if we consider the BPL (Below Poverty Level), it constitutes about 30-35 percent of our population. Woh apna roti, kapda aur makan kho rahe hai (They are losing their food to eat, clothes to wear and a place to live in. To fulfill our every basic need we need petrochemical or petrol).”

Onkar Nath Singh gave a comparison report of the UPA and the NDA governments. He said: “During the UPA government in 2014 the excise duty on diesel was Rs 3.86 which has increased to Rs 15.33. In 2014, the excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.20 which has increased to Rs 19.38. There has been an increase of 13% on diesel and 11% on petrol.”

Rajesh Kumar said: “The rule is that if the price increases in the international markets, it increases in India, too, and if it decreases globally, it does so here, too. But the price has never fallen in India. The reasons are purely political. Why didn’t it increase before the Karnataka elections? From the stage of the procurement of raw materials till it reaches us, the cost of every stage is fixed except the stage when we buy it. Most of the states are BJP-ruled in India. They know if they decrease the prices it will affect their vote bank adversely.”

Kulsum Mustafa raised the following questions—why is the government not decreasing the excise duty? Why does the price not fall in India when it does globally?

Govind Pant Raju said the central government’s claim that it is in a way controlled by the international markets has no logic in it. He further said: “Nowadays, one can see the government and the oil companies speaking the same language. The government keeps saying that they are developing the infrastructure of our country. If the common man is grief-stricken, for whom are they doing these developments? The government should try and understand the problems the common man is facing and whether all these will have any end results.”

                                                                                   —Compiled by Usha Rani Das

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