The Congress is holding protests at petrol pumps across the country against the rising prices of fuel and cooking gas on Friday. The party is demanding that the government withdraw the price increases.

Party members took to the streets in Delhi, Amritsar in Punjab, Karnataka’s Hubli, and other cities to protest against the fuel prices. In the national Capital, senior party leader KC Venugopal and Delhi Congress president Anil Chaudhary were among those who participated in the agitation.

In Gujarat, more than 100 Congress workers, MLAs and leaders were detained in different areas for protesting without police permission, reported PTI. Congress Gujarat president Amit Chavda and former state unit chief Bharatsinh Solanki were among those detained, the police said. The Congress members staged protests in Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Rajkot, Palanpur and Vadodara.

The Madhya Pradesh Police registered cases against 30 people, including senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, ANI reported. Bhopal Assistant Superintendent of Police Ankit Jaiswal said that they have been booked under sections 188 (disobedience to order by public servant) and 145 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.

On Wednesday, Venugopal had said in a statement that the protest would be “symbolic” and organised by local party units. He had said that the protest would be held following all Covid-19 protocols.

Petrol prices have crossed the Rs 100-mark in several cities in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and the Union Territory of Ladakh. On Friday, petrol cost Rs 102.04 per litre in Mumbai while diesel sold at Rs 94.15 after the prices were revised, reported Mint. In Delhi, petrol was priced at Rs 95.85 per litre and diesel at Rs 86.75.

This is the 23rd time that fuel prices have risen since May 4, after oil marketing companies ended their 18-day-long hiatus on rate revision in view of the Assembly elections in four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

In his statement, Venugopal had said that the Bharatiya Janata Party government has increased excise duty by Rs 23.87 per litre on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel in comparison to the previous United Progressive Alliance regime.

“The wrong priorities and anti-people policies of the BJP government can also be gauged from the fact that in the last 13 months of the corona epidemic, the prices of petrol and diesel have been increased by an unprecedented Rs 25.97 and Rs 24.18 respectively,” the senior Congress leader alleged.

He said that fuel prices have been increased 44 times in the last five months. “In absence of any financial assistance by the central government to the common citizens, the people are facing huge financial problems,” Venugopal said. “Instead of sympathising with the problems of the commoners, the BJP government has decided to disregard the sufferings of the people and continue to inflict pain by raising the prices of petrol and diesel every other day.”

The party’s general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted saying that the Centre earned Rs 2.74 lakh crore during the pandemic from taxes on petrol and diesel.

“What could have been done with this money – vaccination for the entire country (Rs 67,000 crore) + oxygen plants in 718 districts + AIIMS hospitals in 29 states + Rs 6,000 financial assistance for 25 crore poor people...But we did not get anything,” she tweeted.

The hike in prices came even as India’s oil demand dropped 1.5% in May compared to the same month a year earlier, Reuters reported. The demand was the lowest since August 2020.

The Congress also launched a social media campaign to highlight the rising fuel prices. In a tweet, the party said that fuel prices were the BJP’s “opportunity to loot” the public, and an act of extortion when international crude oil prices were low.