As Congress hopes to make fuel its poll agenda, H D Kumaraswamy mulls cut in cess
BENGALURU: Taking a cue from his Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh counterparts, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is contemplating a cut in cess on fuel. Two months after he announced a 2% hike in VAT on petrol and diesel, Kumaraswamy who was in Delhi on Monday, said his government was in the process of weighing the pros and cons on cutting the taxes on fuel.
The move comes at a time when Congress, JD (S)’s alliance partner in state, is hoping to turn the soaring fuel prices into a poll agenda in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to attack the Modi government.
“In our state government, there is a thought process of reducing the fuel price cess. We have to discuss this with our finance department. We will work out the possibilities and take a decision,” Kumaraswamy said
after meeting PM Modi with a delegation of state leaders to seek funds for flood relief.
As opposition parties staged a protest against the NDA government across the country over rising fuel prices and falling value of rupee on Monday, Kumaraswamy’s government came under severe fire for “the irony” of taking part in the protests despite hiking the state taxes on fuel as recently as in July when the new budget was announced.
Many citizens of Karnataka had taken to social media to criticise the JD(S)-Congress coalition government alongside the Centre for the soaring fuel prices.
Kumaraswamy, in his budget speech, had announced a 2 per cent hike on diesel from 19 % to 21% and on petrol from 30% to 32%.
"By this measure, there will be a modest increase in the price of petrol by Rs 1.14 per litre and that of diesel by Rs 1.12 per litre," he had announced in July. Kumaraswamy, even on Monday, defended his move to hike the cess on fuel and maintained that the cess in Karnataka was far lesser than in the neighbouring states. "Due to the problems in the Union government’s economic and petroleum policies, the price of fuel is going up," he said.
Kumaraswamy who had refused to roll back the fuel hike despite Congress Legislature Party chief Siddaramaiah's letter urging him to do so, has now taken a roundabout on the issue. Kumaraswamy's decision to hike fuel cess had come as an embarrassment to the Congress which has been protesting against the fuel prices for a year now across the country.