The Centre, which is facing political and public fire over high fuel prices in the country, blatantly blamed the previous UPA government for its inability to provide relief through a reduction in central excise levied on fuels.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman made a strong statement against the previous UPA government and said, “They (UPA) took credit for keeping the prices of fuels low. But today the government is paying through the nose for the trickery the UPA indulged in. I can’t provide any relief due to the oil bonds worth Rs 1.44 lakh crore issued by 2012 by the UPA.”
Meanwhile, the state-run fuel retailers have kept automobile fuel rates frozen for almost a month in a departure from the policy of aligning petrol and diesel rates daily by tactically using minor gains of falling international oil prices to offset the need for raising pump rates, three people aware of the development said.
The strategy was to stop the surging streak of fuel prices to avoid the attention of the Opposition when Parliament was in session, a government official and two company executives said, asking not to be named. As the session is now over, the oil marketing companies may gradually resume the policy of daily price revision, they added.
Currently, the highest petrol prices are in Madhya Pradesh with over Rs. 110 per litre but it could soon be extended to all states considering the resumption of price revision.
Domestic petrol and diesel rates had been moving up since May 4, a day after the results of five assembly polls was declared. The price rally saw petrol becoming costlier by ₹11.44 a litre and diesel by ₹9.14 since May 4. Fuel rates jumped to a historic high and petrol crossed the ₹100 per litre mark in several places for the first time.
The price of a domestic (14.2 kilogram) Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG or cooking gas) cylinder was hiked by Rs 25 apiece on Tuesday. After the hike, a domestic cylinder would now cost Rs 859 apiece in the national capital. This is the second consecutive month that oil companies have hiked domestic cooking gas prices.