On Wednesday, mild relief quickly gave way to disappointment for commuters burdened with rising fuel prices after an announced 60 paise reduction in petrol prices and 56 paise for diesel was hastily changed to a one paisa cut. The Indian Oil Corporation said a clerical error had led to the earlier announcement.
This development, which came after 16 consecutive days of rising fuel prices, added salt to the wounds of citizens looking to the government for respite. Rising costs of international crude oil and a drop in the value of the rupee against the dollar are some of the reasons for the spike. However, the surge came suddenly for Indian citizens as prices started increasing May 14 onward after being kept constant for 19 days before the Karnataka elections.
As on Wednesday, a litre of petrol costs Rs 78.42 in New Delhi whereas diesel costs Rs 69.30. In Mumbai, petrol now costs Rs 86.23 per litre and diesel costs Rs 73.78. Kolkata will pay Rs 81.05 per litre for petrol and Rs 71.85 for diesel. In Chennai, petrol is priced at Rs 81.42 and diesel at Rs 73.17.
The one paisa cut in prices, announced a week after the government had talked about providing an immediate solution, seemed like a cruel joke, many expressed on Twitter. Humour and sarcasm ensued on the micro-blogging platform, with several social media users wondering what they would do with the windfall gain. Others speculated that this was the Narendra Modi government’s attempt at comedy.
A meme of Amitabh Bhacchan asking a Kaun Banega Crorepati contestant what they would do with their big win was widely shared on Twitter.
In keeping with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s track record of blaming Jawaharlal Nehru of many ills that plague modern India, some Twitter users pointed out that the paltry reduction in fuel prices was also India’s first prime minister’s fault, as the one paisa coin was introduced under his tenure in 1957.
However, Twitter user Ambika figured out the logic behind the government’s announcement.