Karnataka fuel price hike: CM Siddaramaiah challenges BJP to protest against Union government’s excise duty hike

Karnataka can increase its revenue only by hiking sales tax stamp duty motor vehicle tax and liquor price said CM Siddaramaiah.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jun 17, 2024 | 6:48 PM Updated Jun 17, 2024 | 6:49 PM

Karnataka CM on fuel price hike and BJP protest

Criticising BJP’s Karnataka unit on Monday, 17 June, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah confronted the saffron cadre for not uttering a word or staging a demonstration against the Union government hiking fuel prices in the last ten years.

Siddaramaiah came down heavily on BJP for staging statewide protests against the state government for hiking the sales tax of petrol and diesel. The Congress government increased the petrol and diesel prices by 3 in the state from Saturday, 15 June.

Amidst criticism, Siddaramaiah defended his government’s decision to hike fuel prices, citing limited resources for the state since the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) and high fuel prices in the neighbouring states.

The chief minister also hit out at the BJP for increasing the central excise duty on petrol by three times and diesel by nearly ten times since 2014.

Condemning the fuel price hike, the BJP’s Karnataka unit staged a state-wide protest on Monday. The party leadership claimed that they would protest until the government revoked its decision.

Related: Karnataka fuel price hike: Rates still lower than neighbouring, Maharashtra, shows data

CM’s dare to Karnataka BJP 

In the wake of BJP’s state-wide protest over fuel price hike, CM Siddaramaiah dared the BJP’s Karnataka unit to stage similar protest against the Narendra Modi-led-NDA government over the fuel price hike in the last ten years.

Siddaramaiah told reporters on Monday: “The BJP and JDS are staging protest over fuel price hike. We increased petrol and diesel by ₹3 per litre. They should protest against the Union government instead of the state government.”

He continued: “When Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had made a statement against the fuel price hike. Modi had stated that after he becomes the Prime Minister, he would reduce the prices of fuel and gas. But he acted against it.”

He also said: “When Modi became the PM, the petrol price was ₹72.26 in 2014. In June 2024, it has surged to ₹104. Diesel was priced at ₹57.52 in 2014 and it increased to ₹92.51 in 2024.”

Siddarmaiah added: “When Manmohan Singh was the PM, the crude oil was $113 per barrel. Now, the price is $82.35. In whose era the crude oil price was high? In 2015, the crude oil price was $50. In Modi’s regime, crude oil price was reduced but petrol prices were hiked.”

He further said: “When Manmohan Singh was at the helm, the cooking gas cylinder was priced at ₹410 in 2014. Even after the Union government reducing its price, the gas is now priced at ₹805.05.”

“Who increased it? Whom should the BJP fight against? If they had concern about the poor and common people, they should have reduced it. Why did not they reduce?” asked the Chief Minister.

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Limited resources at state government’s disposal

Defending the state government’s decision to hike the fuel price, Siddaramaiah stated that the state had limited revenue resources since the GST was implemented.

Siddaramaiah told reporters: “After the Central government implemented the GST, the state government lost the power to increase its revenue. The Centre collects GST, Income Tax, Corporate Tax and Excise duty.”

He added: “The state can only increase its revenue by hiking sales tax, stamp duty, motor vehicle tax and liquor price. Where are the other sources?”

Continuing his tirade against the fiscal policies of the Union government, he said: “In the tax devolution, they give less share to our state. Our tax share was reduced. After they come to power, Karnataka has incurred a loss of about ₹1.87 lakh crore in the 14th and 15th Finance Commission.”

He also said: “Not even single member of parliament spoke about this despite electing 25 BJP MPs from Karnataka in the previous tenure. They did not abide by the recommendations of the Finance Commission.”

Siddaramaiah pointed out: “The 15th Finance Commission had recommended the centre to give Karnataka 5,495 crore. The Centre did not honour it. The BJP government did not release grants of ₹5,300 crore for the Upper Bhadra project, ₹3,000 crore for the peripheral ring road in Bengaluru and another ₹3,000 crore for the lake development in Bengaluru. Yet the BJP remained tight-lipped.”

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‘Continuing all works’ 

Slamming the Opposition party over frequently stating that the state government has gone bankrupt, CM Siddaramaiah chided that the BJP leaders are not aware of the meaning of bankruptcy. The Chief Minister said: “The BJP frequently criticises that the state government has gone bankrupt. Are they aware what is meant by bankrupt? Does Ashok (Leader of Opposition) know the meaning of it?”

He added: “Have we stopped any development works or giving salary to the employees or not allocating grants for the projects announced in the budget? We are continuing all the works without any financial issues.”

Pointing at the central excise duty, he said: “When Modi came to power in 2014, the central excise duty on petrol was ₹9.48 in June. In May 2020, it was increased to ₹32.98. The central excise duty on Diesel was ₹3.56 in 2014 and it was increased to ₹31.83 in 2020.  They increased by around 28.27 paise. Did the BJP stage a protest then?  Didn’t that burden poor and common people?”

He added: “In order to get the drought relief, we had to approach the Supreme Court. After the apex court gave direction, they released the drought relief. BJP is totally against the poor, farmers and people. We have given guarantees for the poor, irrespective of caste.

“What moral does BJP have to stage a protest? Their only job is to deprive the poor. The Central government is doing injustice to us. They didn’t utter a word over fiscal injustice and during drought. They don’t have any other issues.”

On several Congress MLAs complaining about the lack of grants for the development works, Siddaramaiah said: “None of the MLAs have complained to me about lack of grants for development works. We are initiating all the development works mentioned in the budget. There is no dearth of funds.”

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BJP’s protests fuel price hike

The BJP’s Karnataka unit, under the leadership of its chief and MLA BY Vijayendra and Opposition leader R Ashok, staged a state-wide protest condemning the fuel price hike on Monday, 17 June.

The protests were held in Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Dharwad, Bengaluru, Gadag, Haveri, Belagavi, Kalaburagi, Chitradurga and other districts.

In Bengaluru, the BJP staged a protest by taking a ride in a bullock cart and raising slogans against the Siddaramaiah government.

Vijayendra told reporters: “The Chief Minister’s decision to hike petrol and diesel prices has put the poor and middle class in difficulty. Even the ruling party MLAs are furious over not getting grants to take up development works.

“When BJP was at the helm, the then CM Basavaraj Bommai presented a surplus budget in 2023. The state finances have completely deteriorated and corruption is rampant,” Vijayendra said, taking a dig at the Siddaramaiah government.

He pointed out: “The farmers are coming out of severe feminine, which the state witnessed last year due to complete failure of monsoon. Amidst this, the hike of petrol and diesel prices by 3 and 3.5, respectively, will be an injustice to farmers.

“This will also make autorickshaws, cabs and taxis costlier. This will further increase the prices of essential goods including veggies. We will condemn the decision of the chief minister.”

(Edited by Neena)

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