The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has called a nation-wide bandh on Monday as a mark of protest against fuel price hike and urged other opposition parties and civil society groups to join the protest. Other opposition parties including the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) have extended their support to the nation-wide bandh. The bandh is likely to hit schools, colleges and transport services. Protesting against fuel price hike, BJP’s bickering ally in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has already put up posters in Mumbai.

Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Ajay Maken urged party workers to stage a peaceful protest to mount pressure on the Narendra Modi-led NDA government against 211.7% excise duty hike. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and several other trade organisations are supporting the Congress and 21-22 political parties are expected to participate in the protest, he said.

Demanding the government to take strong measures to strengthen the falling Rupee, Maken said the Modi government is nowhere near the GDP growth that Congress had left as far as the value of Rupee is concerned. He opined that the cascading effect of fuel prices will come down once it is brought under the GST. “Petrol and diesel prices will be cheaper by Rs 15-18,” he added.

Protesting against fuel price hike, posters were put up by Shiv Sena in Mumbai.

Currently, petrol is being sold at Rs 80.50 per litre and diesel at Rs 72. 61 per litre in New Delhi while petrol and diesel prices in Mumbai are Rs 87.89 per litre and Rs 77.09 per litre, respectively.

Demanding an immediate reduction in central excise duty and excessive VAT, Congress Communications Department chief Randip Singh Surajewala on Saturday said Congress party has decided that its workers will be giving a call for Bharat Bandh on September 10 in order to highlight the Rs 11 lakh crore fuel loot. Surjewala also told reporters in New Delhi the Congress will also demand petrol and diesel should be brought within the ambit of the GST so that the “common man whose budget has gone haywire is provided with the requisite relief”.

On the other hand, Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday blamed strengthening of the US dollar, non-fulfilment of the commitment made by OPEC countries regarding additional oil production and the crisis in Iran, Venezuela and Turkey for the rise in prices of crude oil. Pradhan said India as a stable economy should avoid any knee-jerk reaction to volatile crude oil prices and made it clear that no cut in taxes on fuel despite petrol breaching the Rs 80 per litre level in the Capital.

The depreciating value of the Indian rupee and hiked crude oil prices continues to haunt the commuters in the national capital and other states across the country. On Saturday, the fuel prices jumped to new record highs with a litre of petrol costing Rs 80.38 per litre and Rs 72.51 per litre that for Diesel in Delhi. Reports said that the fuel prices were pushed to their highest ever after petrol price was hiked by 39 paise per litre and diesel by 44 paise for the third straight day in Delhi. Besides Delhi, several other key cities have also come under the effect of hiked prices. In cities like Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, a per litre petrol is available at Rs 83.27, Rs 87.77 and Rs 83.54 respectively.

To protest fuel price hike, the DYFI has put up a poster at a petrol pump in Kerala.

On the other hand, the diesel costs Rs 75.36, Rs 76.98 and Rs 76.64 in the cities of Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai respectively. As per reports, petrol and diesel prices have increased by Rs 2.85 per litre and Rs 3.3 per litre respectively since August. Notably, the rapid fuel price hike in the country is caused due to a combination of rising in crude oil rates and fall of the Indian rupee against the US dollar.

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