As petrol prices crossed Rs.100 in certain parts of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing her “deep concern and anguish” at the plight of the common people of the country. In a letter dated July 5, Mamata Banerjee wrote, “I would like to draw your attention to a Government of India policy which has brought great distress among the common people of the country. Shockingly, the retail price of petrol in many States across the country has crossed an unprecedented Rs.100 per litre.”
She pointed out that petrol and diesel prices were hiked eight times since May 4 this year, including six times in June and “shockingly, four times in one week”. The letter stated that the price hikes have not only adversely affected the common people, but also “directly impacted the dangerously rising inflation in the country”. She pointed out that the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) in the country rose by 12.94 per cent in May 2021 compared with May 2020; and the Consumer Price Index rose by 6.3 per cent, where the prices of edible oil rose by 30.8 per cent, eggs by 15.2 per cent, fruits by 12 per cent, and health related items “in the middle of the pandemic” by 8.44 per cent. “Much of this inflation was triggered by petrol and diesel price hikes. I may add here that such major inflation in prices reduces the real income of the common people as well.”
Mamata Banerjee pointed out in her letter that in the last six years, the Government of India’s tax collection from oil and petroleum products had increased by 370 per cent “due to constant hikes in Central Excise Duty on oil and petroleum products, including cesses and surcharges, at the cost of the common people.” She claimed that the West Bengal government has “voluntarily given a rebate to both petrol and diesel as a token of our empathy for the common people”. She appealed to the Prime Minister to “substantially” reduce the taxes charged by the Central government on petrol and diesel “to give much-needed relief to the common people and also to check the overall inflationary trend in the country today”.
The Trinamool Congress has decided to sit in dharna from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on July 10 and 11 in all the blocks and towns across West Bengal in protest against the increase in petrol and diesel prices. Partha Chatterjee, Cabinet Minister and general secretary of the party, said the protest would take place observing all COVID protocols. “The price of cooking gas is sky-high, the prices of petrol and diesel have now hit a century, and the Centre is quietly sitting doing nothing…. This is affecting the everyday life of the people. It is the Trinamool Congress’s duty to protest against this,” he said.