New Delhi, Sep 16: Come September 20, the opposition Congress is all set to start a massive nationwide protest against the "draconian" fuel tax which has led to the astronomical rise in petrol and diesel prices in the recent times. The Congress made the announcement regarding its upcoming protest on Friday.
The strike is against the steep increase in central excise duty on petrol and diesel. The Congress accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of "looting" the common people and "profiteering" at their expense by increasing fuel prices.
Congress's senior spokesperson Ajay Maken said the party would continue its fight "until this draconian taxation regime is withdrawn". He claimed that in every 100 rupees of petrol, Rs 51.78 was in taxes and Rs 44.40 for diesel.
He demanded a white paper on taxes imposed on fuels and the gains made by the government, and said the party would agitate across the country. The agitation would start on September 20 from the national capital.
"The Congress will launch a nationwide agitation against this burdening of the common man with increased taxes and flooding the coffers of the government," he said. Maken said the Congress would start a signature campaign at petrol pumps from September 17 and launch a big protest on September 20.
He said the party would fight this battle to reduce taxes on every available forum and challenged the BJP to come out with a white paper on taxes on fuels and the gains thereof.
"We will fight for the people, tooth and nail, until this draconian taxation regime is withdrawn," he told reporters. The Delhi Congress chief said burning holes in the pockets of the common people has become the benchmark of governance for the BJP.
"Looting people, profiteering at their expense and squeezing their hard earned money is the sole aim of the BJP government. While crude oil prices plummet, petrol-diesel prices skyrocket!" he said.
He said while the Modi government has spelt out "absurd" reasons such as "Hurricanes Harvey and Irma" for the increase in petrol and diesel prices, "it has dealt a devastating blow to the savings of the common people by brazenly increasing central excise duty 11 times in the past 3.5 years."
Maken alleged that the increase in excise duty of petrol since May, 2014 is 133.47 percent and that on diesel is 400.86 percent after the central excise duty has been hiked 11 times since the BJP came to power.
He said while international crude oil prices came down by more than 52 percent since the Modi government took over on 26 May, 2014, petrol prices skyrocketed to a three-year high. He also said that total contribution of petroleum to the central and state exchequers would touch Rs 5.24 lakh crore in 2016-17.
"The way prices are rising and taxes are being imposed on petroleum products and other things and the economy is still going down, it puts a question mark on the working of this government," he said.
The Congress demanded an immediate course correction of petrol and diesel prices by withdrawing the massive central excise duties and other taxes which have burdened the common people of the country and only flooded the coffers of the BJP government.
According to sources, the protest is unlikely to have much impact as most of the states in the country are ruled by the BJP.