Rajasthan: Congress forces BJP government to reduce fuel prices 

Rajasthan enjoys a special status as an oil-producing state, but people of the state have not benefited from it. Rajasthan Congress should be credited for forcing the Raje govt to reduce VAT on fuel

IANS Photos
IANS Photos

Prakash Bhandari

The Rajasthan Congress should be credited for forcing a BJP-ruled state to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel. Pradesh Congress chief Sachin Pilot is jubilant as the Bharat Bandh call given by the Congress-led Opposition forced Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was busy undertaking her Gaurav Yatra, to announce a fuel tax cut by 4% that made petrol cheaper by ₹2.21 and diesel by ₹2.19.

“The bandh call forced the BJP government to bring in the reduction in the VAT. Its democracy at its best and the call given by the Pradesh Congress made the Vasundhara government panicky and the BJP government was forced to reduce the VAT. Now, other states are following the trend and this shows how the call given by the Congress forced various governments to review the VAT structure. Andhra Pradesh has reduced the VAT and other states are following it. Thus the Congress has emerged as a clear winner in its demand and the people are grateful for the initiative undertaken by the Congress. The Congress proved that it’s a party that cares for the people and their welfare,” said Archana Sharma, the Pradesh Congress spokesperson.

The Vasundhara Raje government’s decision to reduce VAT comes at a time when the Union government is defying all public demand for reduction of excise duty on fuel “It’s a clear victory for the Congress-led initiative and the reduction of VAT on fuel should be extended to cooking gas. The Modi government should review the issues that affect fuel prices with a national policy,” said former Chief Minister and AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot.

Rajasthan earned ₹2579.08 crore in the year 2017-2018 when oil prices were low. The state is slated to take in a massive rise in the royalty after the rise in the international price of oil

Rajasthan is an oil and natural gas producing state and the underbelly of the Thar desert in western Rajasthan is a major producer of oil and gas. The state has earned ₹28,301.35 crore by the way of royalties since the year 2010-2011 when oil and natural gas production started in the state.

The state earned ₹2,579.08 crore in the year 2017-2018 when oil prices were low. The state is slated to take in a massive rise in the royalty after the rise in the international price of oil. Rajasthan enjoys a special status as an oil-producing state. It earns huge royalty from Cairns, the licensee for exploration in the Rajasthan field. But people of the state did not get any benefit as a major oil and gas producing state.

“In Rajasthan, after the BJP came to power, the prices of crude nosedived and it was less than $40 a barrel. The fall in the prices should have helped the consumers. Instead, the BJP government imposed VAT of 4% each on both petrol and diesel and abolished the 50 paisa subsidy on both petrol and diesel. It levied a cess of ₹1.50 per litre on petrol and ₹1.75 on every litre of diesel. All this added up and oil prices shot up. The people should get benefit of Rajasthan being an oil producing state and the state government should part with a certain percentage of the royalty earned to enable the consumer to benefit. But instead, the state government go on levying higher VAT on fuel. Thus consumers face immense hardship. Fuel prices should be linked to GST. The BJP government boasts of its success story on GST, but it has not linked fuel prices to GST. Instead, since 2014, the Excise Duty on petrol has risen by 211.7% and on diesel by 433%. This shows that the Union government is only keen to earn high revenues from fuel without caring for the people,” said Rameshwar Meena, owner of a petrol pump.

“The VAT structure is taking fuel prices high. The Vasundhara Raje government has announced a 4% reduction in VAT, but still, there is scope to reduce it further. Vasundhara Raje should have reduced the VAT even before the Congress gave the call for Bharat Bandh, However, she would not get any political mileage out of the reduction in the VAT structure. Instead, the people of Rajasthan are hailing the Congress that forced the BJP government to reduce the VAT. This also shows that the BJP relented under our pressure. It seems fuel is not her cup of tea. She deliberately delayed the Congress approved refinery project and she re-announced the refinery project at Pachpadra in western Rajasthan. It was a decision of the Congress but she sat on it and delayed it, causing huge losses in terms of revenues. But there is no sign of any headway on the refinery front and work has not started. If we come to power, the refinery project will be on the top of our agenda” said Sachin Pilot, PCC president.

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