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Opposition up in Arms After Record Hike in LPG at Rs 50, Petrol, Diesel Price Spike

Rajya Sabha proceedings adjourned after protest by Congress, TMC, SP and Left parties.
Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: Petrol and diesel prices were on Tuesday hiked by 80 paise a litre each while domestic cooking gas LPG rates were increased by Rs 50 per cylinder as state oil firms ended an over four-and-half month election-related hiatus in rate revision, fanning inflation fears.

Petrol in Delhi will now cost Rs 96.21 per litre as against Rs 95.41 previously while diesel rates have gone up from Rs 86.67 per litre to Rs 87.47, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers.

In Mumbai, the petrol price has been hiked by Rs 0.84 per litre to Rs 110.82, and diesel by Rs 0.86 to Rs 95.

The rates, which differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT, are likely to continue to rise over the next few days as state oil firms recoup losses from keeping prices on hold for a record 137 days.

Simultaneously, the price of non-subsidised LPG cylinders has been increased to Rs 949.50 per 14.2-kg bottle in the national capital and Mumbai, and to Rs 976 in Kolkata.

While LPG rates were last revised on October 6, 2021, petrol and diesel prices had been on a freeze since November 4 as five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, went to the polls.

LPG prices had gone up by close to Rs 100 per cylinder between July and October 6, 2021, before criticism halted the monthly revision in rates.

Non-subsidised cooking gas is the one that consumers buy after exhausting their quota of 12 cylinders at subsidised or below market price. However, the government pays no subsidy on LPG in most cities and the price of the refill that consumers, including the poor women who got free connection under the much-talked Ujjwala scheme, undertake is the same as non-subsidised or market price LPG.

This is the highest rate ever that subsidised LPG users will pay. The non-subsidised rate had peaked at Rs 1,241 in January 2014, but at that time, the government provided as much as Rs 600 per cylinder subsidy.

The direct LPG subsidy was stopped by the Central government from May 2020. A small sum is paid to cooking gas users in the far-flung areas to compensate for higher freight.

The resumption of fuel price hikes has fanned concerns of stoking inflation, which is already above the targeted 6% p level.

Rajya Sabha Uproar

The Opposition parties were quick to attack the government on the price rise, with Congress, TMC and Left parties forcing adjournment of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha."Congratulations to PM Modiji for achieving his 'target' of Rs 1,000 per LPG cylinder in most parts of the country. There will now be daily 'Vikas' in petrol and diesel prices as well. The only affordable things under Modi Govt are communalism & Hatred. Everything else is expensive," Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Mallikarjun Kharge said in a tweet.

While TMC members stormed into the well of the House carrying placards on the issue, Congress, Left, Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena MPs were up on their feet, some shouting slogans.

This after Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he has not accepted notices given by Shaktisinh Gohil (Congress), Dola Sen (TMC), V Sivadasan, Elamaram Kareem and John Brittas (CPM) under rule 267, requiring setting aside of the listed agenda to take up a discussion.

Naidu said the issue can be discussed during demands for grants of concerned ministries.

As opposition MPs tried to raise the issue, Naidu rejected their call and called for the listed zero hour mentions.

But an unrelenting opposition continued to shout slogans.

Slamming the price hikes, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said: "Another gift of inflation from the BJP government for the public... LPG cylinder in Lucknow is close to Rs 1,000 and in Patna above Rs 1,000! Elections over, inflation begins".

TMC's Saket Gokhale said with dealer commissions and GST, a cylinder now costs Rs 1,000. "Kerosene prices doubled in just 10 days. When asked in Parliament, govt is flustered. In India, hate films are tax-free while hunger of poor is taxed".

 NCP, Cong Criticise Centre

In Mumbai,  NCP and Congress hit out at the Central government on Tuesday over the latest fuel price hike, and questioned the need for increasing the rates at a time when crude oil was imported at “highly discounted rates" from Russia.

The petrol and diesel prices were on Tuesday hiked by 80 paise a litre, while the domestic cooking gas prices were increased by Rs 50 per cylinder, ending an over four-and-half month election-related hiatus in rate revision, sources said.

 “What was the need to increase the price of cooking gas when you (the Centre) have already imported lakhs of barrels of crude oil at highly discounted rates from Russia,” NCP's Maharashtra unit chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase asked.

The crude oil price has increased to USD 140 per barrel in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, he noted. 

On one hand, the petroleum ministry is trying to justify the price hike due to increased international prices of crude and on the other, they have made a “swift deal at highly discounted rates”, said the NCP leader, whose party shares power with the Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole accused the Centre of inflicting atrocities on people as soon as the elections got over.

 He was referring to the Assembly polls held recently in five states - Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

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