NEW DELHI: With as many as 22 states and Union Territories reducing local taxes on fuel shortly after the Centre cut excise duty on petrol by Rs 5 and diesel by Rs 10 a litre, the BJP sought to change the narrative by blaming Opposition- ruled states for refusing to ease the burden on the poor.
By doing so, the BJP tried to change the optics of runaway fuel prices, as it had struggled all along to defend the high tax rates that became a double whammy during the disastrous Covid second wave. The Congress scrambled to formulate a suitable response since fuel rates in Rajasthan are the highest in India now.
In Delhi, party spokesperson Pawan Khera said, “Congress- ruled states are discussing the issue and a decision will be taken soon.” However, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot rejected the Centre’s appeal to reduce the state’s value added tax (VAT) on fuel. Petrol in Jaipur was sold at Rs 111.12 and diesel at Rs 95.73 a litre.
The BJP is preparing to hold a statewide agitation against the Gehlot government on the matter. The Channi government in Punjab, too, was under pressure, as high fuel rates could well become a political hot potato with state elections just four months away.
As for the Kejriwal government in Delhi, it said it was weighing options. “We are examining what impact it will have on Delhi and what Delhi (government) can do,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.
In Andhra Pradesh, the opposition BJP and the Telugu Desam Party held agitations urging Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to slash VAT on petrol and diesel.