Sunday will bring some cheer to the cost-hit middle class as petrol prices will be cheaper by Rs 2 across the country.
The oil marketing companies today decided to cut petrol price, which is a deregulated commodity, after a substantial hike of Rs 6.28 per litre on 23 May with the rupee depreciating heavily and the firms facing a staggering loss of Rs 72,000 crore.
The hike broke all previous records shocking the political class and common mass. The increase of Rs.6.28 per litre was exclusive of sales tax/VAT as it varies from 15 percent to 33 percent in the state. Besides, additional sales tax of Rs 0.94 to Rs 2.07 per litre was also added to the increase.
States like Delhi brought down taxes to give some respite to the citizens.
But the partial rollback is unlikely to shield the UPA government from the political backlash. On 31 May, the Left and the BJP called for a countrywide shutdown protesting against the massive hike. The shutdown brought many parts of the country to a standstill including Congress-ruled states.
Reacting to the rollback, CPM leader D Raja told Times Now, “The rollback is very small compared to the huge hike. It won’t help the poor people. They should rollback completely. The prices of essential commodities are shooting through the roof.”
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said,”We have to have a complete rollback. The government is not increasing or decreasing commensurating with the international crude price. Rupee depriciation affected the crude value by 26 percent only. But it was increased by 45 percent.”
“We will go with our agitation on 7 June,” Sitharaman said signalling a tough time for the government in the coming days.
Even ally like the Trinamool Congress are not happy with the partial rollback.
“The rollback of mere Rs 2 is completely unacceptable. We want a complete rollback,” Trinamool head and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.
Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, made it clear that the government had nothing to do with the price cut.
“Petrol is a deregulated commodity. The government has no control on petrol prices. It is not a rollback and it has nothing to do with the opposition. It depends on the OMCs as they review prices every 15 days,” the minister said.
Singh accepted that the government had to bear the brunt when oil firms increase petrol prices.
“It is completely agonising to be in power when petrol prices went up so steeply. We are keeping fingers crossed. We hope international crude prices are down,” he said.