NEW DELHI: After Rafale jet deal, Congress strategists have planned nationwide protests to slam the centre over high fuel prices and the resultant inflation hitting the common man to gain traction ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Sources said a meeting of senior AICC functionaries and state unit chiefs has been called on September 6 to work out details of the plan which aims to press the government to bring down domestic prices of petrol and diesel.
The grand old party is also in touch with like-minded parties to broad base the protests, the sources said."The high fuel prices have hit the farmers, urban dwellers and small traders alike but the insensitive government does not realize their pain," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Congress insiders said their main plank would be the huge difference between the domestic fuel prices under the previous UPA and the NDA since 2014 given the gap in the prices of international crude oil.-"When we had hiked petrol price by Rs 5 per litre (from Rs 45 to 50) in 2008 against international crude oil at $ 138 per barrel, BJP had accused us of unleashing economic terror. I want to ask them how different is the situation now,-" former union minister Manish Tewari recalled.
The ideal cost of petrol for consumers should be Rs 39 per litre considering the current crude oil price instead of the current domestic price of over Rs 80 per litre in Delhi, sources said.
Noting the government has already pocketed Rs 11 lakh crore worth of revenues owing to high fuel prices, the Congress said it was miffed over the BJP's retort that high fuel prices meant more funds with the states. -"We don't want people to suffer just to fill state coffers. This is not how Congress governments work. The BJP governments may want to rob people to fill public coffers,-" said Tewari.
The Congress managers pointed out the party had been asking since 2017 to bring petroleum products under the Goods and Services Tax to safeguard the commoners but in vain.