India: Congress Launches Nationwide Protest Amid Rising Fuel Prices

© Photo : Hindustan Times/Arvind Yadav/screenshotCongress MPs protesting against the hike in diesel and cooking gas prices at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi on Thursday
Congress MPs protesting against the hike in diesel and cooking gas prices at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi on Thursday - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.03.2022
Several Indian parties, including the Congress Party, are hitting out at the ruling party BJP over rising fuel and commodities prices. On Wednesday, rating agency India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) cut the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth forecast for 2022-23.
India's main opposition party Congress on Thursday launched a week-long protest against the fuel price hike in New Delhi, and other parts of the country, demanding its rollback.
Congress parliamentarians, including Rahul Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (the upper house) Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress senior politician Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have gathered outside India's parliament to voice dissent.
The participating politicians were seen carrying placards, and raising slogans targeting PM Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"In the last 10 days, petrol and diesel prices have increased nine times. We demand that the rising prices should be brought under control. The Congress is holding nationwide protests on this issue today," Gandhi told reporters.
Now, a litre of petrol in Delhi costs INR 101.81 ($1.35) and diesel costs INR 93.07 ($1.23) after a price hike on Thursday. In Mumbai, petrol is priced at Rs 116.72 ($1.54) per litre and diesel costs INR 100.94 ($1.33).
Fuel prices in India vary from state to state, depending on local taxes such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) and freight charges
Congress Parliamentarian Chowdhury said, "We had predicted that as soon as elections in five states will conclude, the fuel prices will be hiked. And see, it has."
Meanwhile, Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivakumar launched the protest in his state, during which he opted to garland a domestic gas cylinder, implying the end or 'death' of the cylinder, for going beyond the ordinary persons' reach.
During the protest, Congress workers stated that the cylinder is no more affordable for an ordinary man in the country. "Hence, we're bidding adieu to the gas cylinder."
Additionally, Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) domestic cooking gas prices were increased by INR 50 ($0.50) per cylinder earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the party workers were seen making similar gestures in other parts of the country during their protests.
Congress called for people to stage protest outside their homes, by beating "drum-bells and other instruments" on Thursday.
The party has also planned district-level protests against inflation from 2 to 4 April, and state-level demonstrations on 7 April.
Meanwhile, petrol and diesel prices rose on Thursday as well. It was the ninth increase in prices since the ending of a four-and-half-month-long hiatus in rate revision on 22 March.
Since 4 November, fuel prices hadn't increased in the country while five states were undergoing legislative assembly elections. Prices didn't even budge when the cost of crude oil had surged by nearly $30 per barrel.
Indian oil firms had not revised fuel prices for 137 days despite the substantial increase in global oil prices.
On 24 March, Moody's Investors Services said that the three state-owned fuel retailers – Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd – incurred losses of around INR 190 billion ($2.5 billion) in revenue for keeping petrol and diesel prices on hold during the state assembly polls.
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