Centre slashes petrol, fuel prices by Rs 2.50: Eleven BJP-ruled states follow suit so far; Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry refuse

The government on Thursday announced a Rs 2.50 per litre cut in the prices of petrol and diesel. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Centre had decided to reduce excise duty by Rs 1.50 a litre and had asked oil companies to absorb another Re 1. The price cuts will be effective midnight.

While the lowered prices come as a much-needed relief for commuters, this reduction in excise duty — only the second in the four years of the BJP-led NDA government — will make a dent of Rs 10,500 crore in the state exchequer.

While announcing the decision, Jaitley asked state governments to match the Central government’s move with a similar reduction in sales tax or VAT. And within minutes, a number of states began to announce their decision to give citizens additional relief of Rs 2.50, bringing the total fuel price cut in these states to Rs 5.

However, what could be unsurprising to many is that this decision was announced only by BJP-ruled states.

Within minutes of Jaitley’s announcement, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted saying his government had “also decided to give additional relief” of Rs 2.50 on fuel rates in the state. “This will give huge relief to common citizens,” he added. “The central and state government are working together to give more and more relief to the people,” he told ANI.

Soon after, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani echoed Fadnavis, “reciprocating positively to the finance minister’s announcement”.

Besides poll-bound Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the governments of Chhattisgarh, Assam, Tripura, Jharkhand, Goa, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana also announced cuts by Rs 2.50.

Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath hailed the Centre's move as a "great relief to the common man".

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted that his government made the decision to “ease the burden on common people”. Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said this tax cut will “mean a loss of revenue” of Rs 400 crore for the state.

Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das said he was “grateful from the heart” to Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this decision, as it will bring “great relief to the common man”.

The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satya Pal Malik, too, announced a Rs 2.50 cut in the prices of petrol and diesel, bringing down the rates of fuel by Rs 5 in the state.

Ailing Goa chief minister, Manohar Parrikar, too, slashed the fuel rates in his state.

States that refused

In a veiled statement politicising the subject, the finance minister had said this will be a test for those states whose leaders were only tweeting and indulging in lip sympathy. “Last time also only BJP and NDA-led state governments had reduced VAT. This time, if other state governments don’t do it, then people will question them," Jaitley said.

While the decisions by the BJP-ruled states was expected, there was also a near immediate refusal by non-BJP states to cut fuel rates. Not giving into the threat of being questioned by the people, the governments of Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry all made it clear that they will not be following suit and petrol and diesel prices will remain unchanged in the states.

The Central government has been refusing to reduce the excise duty on fuel since May when the rates of petrol and diesel first surged and then again from mid-August. To bring some relief to citizens, three states had reduced fuel rates in August, including West Bengal.

On Thursday, however, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said a fuel price cut of at least Rs 10 per litre was needed in the current scenario. "This government at the Centre is not bothered about the well-being of the masses... They are only interested about their party," she said.

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy justified his decision, saying the state had cut the fuel prices by Rs 2 just last month. The Kerala government, too, had reduced fuel rates in June.

Follow LIVE updates on the fuel price cut here

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Updated Date: Oct 04, 2018 21:10:35 IST

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