Congress calls for Bharat bandh on Sept 10 against fuel price hike

New Delhi: Calling the steep rise in diesel and petrol prices as Rs 11 lakh crore ‘fuel loot,’ the Congress on Thursday called for a ‘Bharat bandh’ on September 10, saying it was in touch with other parties for their support.

The party again demanded that petrol and diesel be brought under Goods and Services Tax (GST). The government had earlier rejected the demand saying most states were opposed to it.

It also demanded that there should be immediate reduction in central excise duty and excessive VAT in the states.

“Many promises were made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before coming to power in 2014, but none were kept. When questions were raised by Congress President Rahul Gandhi about the Rafale fighter deal and Amit Shah’s son, those too went unanswered,” Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said at a press conference in the Capital.

“The mismanagement of economy has led to high prices. When fuel prices were rising during the UPA regime, taxes were reduced to take the burden off the people. But due to the mismanagement by the current government, the prices of petrol, diesel and gas cylinders have gone up steeply,” he said.

“We decided for the Bharat Bandh call today after a meeting of all party general secretaries and the state leaders,” he said, adding the party was in touch with other opposition parties for their support.

He said Congress workers would protest at petrol stations across the nation between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Later his party colleague Randeep Singh Surjewala said the “fuel loot” has resulted in the Modi government profiting Rs 11 lakh crore.

In May 2014, he said, excise duty on petrol was Rs 9 per litre while today it is Rs 19 per litre. “Similarly the excise duty on diesel in 2014 was Rs 3 and today it is around Rs 15 today.

“An RTI reply has revealed that the Modi government is selling diesel for Rs 34 per litre and petrol for Rs 37 per litre to other countries whereas in India the price is high,” he alleged.

Calling it “fuel loot,” the Congress leader said the diesel and petrol should have been brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“Rahul Gandhi had demanded to bring petrol and diesel under GST as this alone will give a relief to common people by Rs 10-15 per litre,” he said.

“The rupee is getting devalued every day. 10 per cent is the loss in value of the rupee in last one year. It is the most devalued currency in Asia, but neither the Prime Minister nor the Finance Minister is worried about it.”

On Supreme Court ruling that ‘bandhs’ are illegal, Surjewala said: “We are aware of the ruling and that is why the ‘bandh’ is between 9:00 am to 3:00 pm so that the common person is not inconvenienced.”

Congress leader Ahmed Patel said that most opposition parties have given their consent to support the bandh. “Consultations are going on with three or four parties. The SP, RJP and NCP have agreed.”

“We have not consulted BSP yet and so far as TMC is concerned, they have agreed to support the agitation,” he said.

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