The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the second time – this time till 1 pm – after the opposition leaders created a ruckus over rising fuel prices on the first day of Parliament’s second part of the budget session on Monday. Congress MPs including Mallikarjun Kharge raised slogans against the soaring rates of fuels.
Citing figures, the leader of opposition said, “Petrol and diesel prices are nearly ₹100 per litre & ₹80 per litre respectively. LPG prices have also gone up.” He alleged that ₹21 lakh crore have been collected by putting excise duty/cess due which the entire nation, including farmers, is suffering.
Following his remarks, the upper house chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said, “I don’t want to take any drastic action on the first day.” The house was then adjourned till 11am and then again for the second time till 1pm.
The protest comes in the backdrop of rise in fuel prices which has been continuing since last month. The price of petrol surged past ₹100 per litre in several cities across the country. On Monday, petrol was selling at ₹91.17 in Delhi, ₹89.38 in Noida, ₹97.57 in Mumbai while it cost ₹91.35 in Kolkata.
The rates of fuels have been rising due the production cuts by the global oil producers. Last week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies agreed to not to increase supply in April as they await a more substantial recovery in demand. Calling out the move, India, which is the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, said the move to extend cuts could threaten the consumption led-recovery in some countries.
“As one of the largest crude-consuming countries, India is concerned that such actions by producing countries have the potential to undermine consumption-led recovery and more so hurt consumers, especially in our price-sensitive market,” minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan told Reuters on Thursday.
When asked about the timeline for the reduction in prices, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had last month said she was facing a dilemma. “It’s not just the cess. You have the excise duty of the Centre, then you have the VAT of the states. So there’s no hiding the fact that there is revenue there. It’s not just me, you ask any state. There’s revenue there,” the finance minister said.
The opposition has been constantly training guns at the government for the hike with several leaders, including Congress’s Shashi Tharoor, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee even taking to roads to pull an auto rickshaw, ride a bicycle and an electric scooter, respectively.