Bharat Bandh: Cong demands inclusion of fuel under GST

New Delhi: The Congress Party on Monday asserted that they would continue the agitation against rising fuel prices until petrol and diesel are brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Addressing a presser after the culmination of the Bharat Bandh, Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot said, “Today’s Bharat Bandh was a success and I thank everyone who participated in it. The main objective for this was the rising fuel prices and the broken promises of Prime Minister Modi. When fuel prices were rising during the United Progressive Alliance regime due to rising global oil prices, we reduced VAT to take off the burden from the common people.”

He also attacked Prime Minister Modi for his silence on the matter and said, “They talk about opposition unity in their national executive but do not discuss issues concerning the general public. They are not at all worried about public concerns. Prime Minister doesn’t utter a single word.”

Congress national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also thanked the participants of the nationwide shutdown and claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was lying about the reason behind the fuel price hike.

“Bharatiya Janta Party claims global prices are the reasons for high petrol prices. Again they are lying. High customs duty, excise duty is levied by the Narendra Modi government and they have profited Rs. 11,00,000 crore through it. The global crude oil price has gone down by 40 per cent, yet the price of petrol and diesel is higher than that during the UPA regime. This is due to Value Added Tax (VAT)”.

Detailing about VAT being levied by different states on petroleum products, he questioned the BJP’s stand of global factors influencing fuel prices.

“In Chhattisgarh, VAT on petrol is 26.90 per cent. In Madhya Pradesh, VAT on petrol is 35.80 per cent. Is this high taxation due to global reasons? Until the Modi government brings fuel price under GST or reduce VAT, Congress will continue this people’s movement. Changing Prime Minister Modi’s pictures on petrol bunks costs Rs.60 crore every month. Prime Minister is taking money from people’s pockets and paying it for his publicity,” he added.

The Congress spokesperson also accused the union government of providing petroleum products to other countries at a much lesser rate. “If we take out an average of the Modi government’s 52 weeks then it will come out to be 50 dollars per barrel. When we relinquished government, petrol was 71 (per litre) and today it is 81 (per litre). However, the crude oil prices have reduced by 40 per cent. We want to know where this profit goes.”

Taking a jibe on the decreasing value of rupee, Surjewala said, “They used to say that Indian rupee is in ICU. Today value of rupee has crossed even the age of Prime Minister. By the time petrol diesel will not come under GST, we will continue with our movement.”

A total of 21 opposition parties, both regional and national, participated in the nationwide lockdown called for by the Congress over exorbitant fuel prices.