Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Aravind Bellad on Saturday claimed that the Taliban crisis was responsible for the drop in crude oil supply, resulting in the rise in fuel prices, NDTV reported.
Petrol prices breached the Rs 100 per litre-mark in several cities in July as state-owned oil firms increased fuel prices on 41 occasions since May 4. After hitting a record on July 17, the prices have dropped marginally.
On Sunday, a litre of petrol cost Rs 107.39 in Mumbai, while diesel was Rs 96.33 a litre. In Delhi, petrol cost 101.34 per litre, while a litre of diesel was priced at Rs 88.77.
“Because of the Taliban crisis in Afghanistan, there has been a drop in supply of crude oil,” Bellad claimed. “Consequently, prices of LPG, petrol and diesel are rising. Voters are mature enough to understand the reasons for price rise.”
India is the third-largest importer of crude oil in the world, according to Reuters. The country gets the resource from Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and Canada. Afghanistan does not feature on the list of countries that export crude oil to India.
Afghanistan is currently in the midst of forming a government after the Taliban seized control on August 15. Its potential to affect global crude oil prices remains unproven.
This is not the first time that a BJP leader has brought up the Taliban when questioned about escalating fuel prices.
On August 19, Madhya Pradesh BJP leader Ramratan Payal told a journalist to “go to Taliban” because fuel was available for Rs 50 in Afghanistan.
“Go to Taliban. Petrol is Rs 50 [per litre] in Afghanistan, but there’s no one to use it,” Payal told journalists. “At least there is safety in India. The third wave of Covid-19 is about to hit us. The country is going through a tough time, and you are talking about petrol prices.”
Fuel prices in India have risen progressively since May 2020.
Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri in August claimed that the money collected from the excise duty is used to finance various welfare schemes.
“The central government is also very sensitive to other responsibilities that we have,” Puri had said. “The government provided free rations to 80 crore people, free vaccines, all other facilities. So it’s a part of that picture.”
Puri and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had blamed the United Progressive Alliance government for deregulating the prices of petrol and diesel in 2010, saying that the measure causes an impact on the local market when international rates of fuel change.
Both of them had pointed to the fact that the Congress government had issued oil bonds worth Rs 1.34 lakh crore to control the prices of petrol.
Oil bonds are a kind of special securities issued by the government of India to public entities like oil marketing companies, Food Corporation of India and fertiliser companies in lieu of cash subsidies, according to a Reserve Bank of India report.
Puri had said that the Congress passed on this “problem” to the Bharatiya Janata Party government.
A day before Puri’s statement, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had also blamed oil bonds for high fuel prices.
In response, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had claimed that oil bonds were not due for payment yet. The Congress leader also said that the Narendra Modi-led government has “extorted Rs 22,33,868 crore” by levying excise on petrol and diesel in the past seven years.
Adding to the brunt of the rising fuel prices, the cost of a 14.2 kg liquified petroleum gas, or LPG, cylinder, was hiked by Rs 25 on Wednesday. It was previously hiked by Rs 25 on August 18.
After Wednesday’s hike, a non-subsidised 14.2 kg LPG cylinder now costs Rs 884.50 in Delhi. In Mumbai, cylinders cost Rs 884.50, while in Kolkata they cost Rs 911.
In Chennai, these cylinders cost Rs 900.50.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that the fuel and cooking gas prices have increased since the Narendra Modi-led government came to power in 2014. He also said that the rise in petrol and diesel rates leads to an increase in prices of all items as fuel products add to their input cost.
“When UPA left in 2014, LPG cylinder cost Rs 410...Today, it costs Rs 885 – a rise of 116%,” Gandhi said. “Petrol was Rs 71.5 per litre in 2014, today it’s Rs 101 per litre – a rise of 42%. Diesel was priced at Rs 57 per litre in 2014, it is Rs 88 per litre today.”