After poll-bound Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan slashed petrol and diesel prices, the West Bengal government on Tuesday announced a reduction of Re 1 for every litre of fuel.
It follows a day after the Congress, alongside the Left Front and several regional parties staged a shutdown on Monday in protest against steep fuel prices amongst other issues. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) led government in Bengal, although supported the cause, refrained from participating in the shutdown and instead sabotaged it in the state drawing criticism from the local Congress leadership.
West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said, “For the time being, we have decided to slash Re 1 for each litre of petrol and diesel” and dared the Centre to do the same, which may reduce the burden on the common man.
“When crude prices fell, you (Cente) increased the prices as well as the cess”, she said.
"We demand central cess be withdrawn immediately," she dared the NDA government.
Addressing reporters at the state secretariat, Banerjee alleged that the BJP-led Centre has hiked the excise duty in nine instances even at a time when global prices were at a decline.
“Our government has never increased the sales tax or cess during all these years. We are reducing the prices despite facing a debt burden of Rs 480 billion” she said.
Banerjee alleged that the Centre is mismanaging the current economic scenario, which is leading to a spiralling rise in fuel prices.
In the National Capital Region, petrol soared to touch Rs. 80.87 a litre while diesel prices climbed to Rs. 72.97 a litre. Fuel prices in Delhi are the cheapest amongst all metro cities in the country.
Andhra Pradesh, on Monday, reduced the state’s share of Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre, which would translate into a burden of Rs 11.20 billion on this state. Rajasthan, on Sunday, decided to forego Rs 20 billion revenue from tax collection on fuel and announced a four per cent reduction in its share of VAT on the fuel. It effectively reduced prices by Rs 2.5 a litre in that state.
Despite fuel prices registering a steep increase in recent times, thereby hurting both the common man as well as the transport and logistics sector, the Centre has maintained that a price reduction is not sustainable and only three states until now have come forward to reduce their share of tax income from black gold.
Tamil Nadu’s chief minister E Palaniswami has also indicated a possibility of cutting petrol and diesel prices despite maintaining that the onus to increase prices or reduce it lies on the Centre.