Fuel prices in India rose for a 12th consecutive day on Friday, hitting an all-time high of Rs 77 in Delhi, Rs 80.47 in Kolkata, Rs 85.65 in Mumbai and Rs 80 in Chennai. Diesel, meanwhile, costs Rs 68.75 in Delhi, Rs 71.30 in Kolkata, Rs 73.20 in Mumbai and Rs 72.58 in Chennai.
A perfect storm of factors has aided this climb – the increase in international crude oil prices, geo-political tensions and high taxes levied by the states and the Centre. Petroleum minister Dharmenda Pradhan has said that the government is working on an immediate solution, but there is nothing in sight yet.
Of all the hot-button issues that put pressure on the government, rising fuel prices are among the most emotive as they not only directly impact citizens but also indirectly burden them by triggering inflation. The plight of the common citizen and the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s slow response has been a common theme of many political cartoons in the past week. Cartoonists picked up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to accept cricketer Virat Kohli’s Fitness Challenge on Thursday to draw attention to the fuel crisis.
The steep rise in prices over the past fortnight come after a 19-day period when fuel rates were kept constant before the Karnataka elections on May 12. The BJP emerged as the single-largest party in a hung verdict, but had to cede power to the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) after it failed to muster the numbers to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly. Cartoonists highlighted the disparity in the central government’s pre and post-poll approach to fuel prices.
“Karnatak ka gussa pure desh pe kyun utaar rahe hein?” – why are they taking their anger over Karnataka out on the whole country? – muses Kirtish Bhatt in this BBC Hindi cartoon.