Bhubaneswar: The ruling BJD will launch a three-day statewide agitation in front of all petrol pumps beginning September 7 as politics over rising prices of fuel and ancillary products takes centrestage in the state.
Addressing a press conference here Tuesday, BJD general secretary Sanjay Kumar Das Burma said three frontal organisations of the party — Biju Chhatra Janata Dal, Biju Yuva Janata Dal and Biju Mahila Janata Dal — will stage peaceful protests in front of all petrol pumps across the state from 10 am to 12 pm in phases during the three days to protest against the price hike.
They will also hold street corner meetings and distribute leaflets to make people aware about how the Union government is looting them. Senior leaders of the party would also participate in the protest.
The BJD leader alleged that the central government was sitting mum over the continuous rise of fuel price during the past few months.
The skyrocketing fuel prices have adversely affected all sections of people, especially the middle-class, poor, farmers, students and women, as well as all sectors of the economy, he said.
The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, he said, had surrendered and expressed his helplessness in controlling the prices stating that it had gone up due to the intolerant policy of the USA and the devaluation of the rupee.
The BJD leader urged Pradhan to advise the Union Finance Minister to ensure that petrol and diesel are brought under the purview of GST to control the prices.
“As the Petroleum Minister is an Odia boy, Odisha is being blamed nationwide. Hence, we will stage protest before each and every petrol pump statewide for three consecutive days from September 7,” the BJD women president Pramila Mallick said.
During the last four years the central government has increased the excise tax 12 times and hiked 100 per cent tax on petrol and 500 per cent on diesel, the ruling party alleged.
The BJD leaders alleged that the central PSU Oil companies were deliberately reducing their production to procure oil from private companies to help them make more profit. The Centre has taken such a decision to ensure crores of rupees profit to a handful of companies and industrialists.
BJP to spend profit on polls
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik alleged that the BJP has planned to spend the huge profit from the hike in oil prices in the coming general elections in the country.
“The petrol and diesel prices in the country are skyrocketing and the common people are bearing the brunt. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is playing the fiddle and making merry like the Roman Emperor Nero,” Patnaik said.
Slamming the BJD, the Congress leader said the ruling party in the state which agitated for small things during the then UPA government led by Congress at the Centre was now quiet and has no courage to stand up against the BJP.
The common people who are now heavily burdened with the rising prices of fuel would give a befitting reply to the BJP in the coming general elections as has been reflected in the just-concluded Karnataka municipal election.
He further said the Centre had cheated around Rs 11 lakh crore in the form of various taxes on fuel and seemed not very much concerned as to how to check the devaluation of the rupee.
Unjust, says BJP
Defending the Centre, state BJP spokesperson Golok Mohapatra said, “The way the BJD is going to protest is unjust. The state government was collecting 21.2 per cent VAT from fuel in 2014, which has now increased to 26 per cent. Is it true or not, will the BJD government tell?”
In 2014, the state was collecting tax of Rs 11.05 on a litre of petrol and Rs 9.39 on a litre of diesel. Now, the state is collecting Rs 15.45 from a litre of petrol and Rs 15.33 from a litre of diesel, he said.
As per the recommendation of the fourteenth Finance Commission, the state is getting 42 per cent share from the central pool of taxes, the BJP leader said, adding, “The state had received Rs 3,046 crore from fuel in 2014-15, which was 8.5 per cent of the total revenue collection of the state in that year. It has collected Rs 6,930 crore this year, which is 12 per cent of the total collection.”
The revenue collection from petrol and diesel in Odisha has increased by 127 per cent, he added.