Petrol and diesel prices were increased again on Sunday, the fifth such hike in six days, PTI reported. While the price of petrol was increased by 50 paise a litre, the diesel rate rose by 55 paise per litre.
Since the revision in fuel prices began on March 22, petrol prices have increased by Rs 3.70 in all, while diesel rates have gone up by Rs 3.75.
On the previous four occasions, both petrol and diesel prices had been increased by 80 paise each.
Ahead of the Assembly polls in five states, fuel rates had been on a freeze since November 4. This was also the period in which the cost of crude oil surged by nearly $30 per barrel. Oil firms had not revised fuel prices for 137 days despite the substantial increase in global oil prices.
Commenting on the price hike on Sunday, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala remarked that in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “new India”, inflation does not spare people even on holidays.
“When will the the Bharatiya Janata Party’s intoxication from its victory wear off?” Surjewala asked. “Till when will people have to bear the brunt of inflation from all sides?”
In another tweet, Surjewala demanded that the Centre should give an account of the Rs 26 lakh crore “accrued” through excise duty on petrol and diesel in the last eight years.
On Saturday, the Congress announced that it will hold protests “to draw attention of the deaf BJP government against the insurmountable increase in prices of gas-petrol-diesel”. The party urged people to protest outside their homes and in public places by beating “drum-bells and other instruments” on March 31.
The Congress has also planned district-level protests against inflation between April 2 and April 4, and state-level demonstrations on April 7.
On Saturday, Surjewala claimed that the BJP-led government increased excise duty by Rs 18.70 for petrol and Rs 18.34 for diesel in total since it came to power in May 2014. “This is a shocking 531% hike in excise duty on diesel, and 203% increase in excise duty on petrol,” he said.
The Congress spokesperson claimed that the previous United Progressive Alliance government gave a subsidy of Rs 1,42,000 crore on petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas. In comparison, the Modi-led government gave a subsidy of only Rs 11,729 crore, he said.
On March 8, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri had said that there was a “war-like situation” in a part of the world, and that oil marketing companies would take that into account.
He had denied that oil price hikes had been stalled due to Assembly elections in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
While fuel prices in India are regulated by oil marketing companies, it has often been observed that the rates remain unchanged during elections and are hiked after the result day.
For 18 days in March and April last year, the prices of petrol and diesel remained unchanged as four states and a Union Territory went to polls. However, after the results were announced on May 2, the prices rose steadily to hit record levels.