Fuel protests force Indian shutdown

10 Sep 18

Record petrol and diesel prices are fuelling protests across India and placing the government under pressure.

Demonstrations have forced businesses, government offices and schools to shut down today in many parts of the country.

Taxes on petrol and diesel, which account for more than a third of retail fuel prices, are one of the biggest revenue sources for the government and an important issue for voters.

In the past, governments have lowered these taxes whenever international oil prices shot up, but the administration of prime minister Narendra Modi has made little adjustment so far.

On Sunday, petrol prices hit 80.50 rupees per litre and diesel its highest level of 72.61 in Delhi, where state taxes are among the lowest in the country.

General elections are due to take place in less than nine months and opposition parties organised their first joint protest against Modi’s nationalist government, Reuters reported. 

The main opposition Congress party said on Twitter: “The Modi’s ‘govt’ is stealing from the people of India with excessive taxes on fuel.”

The tweet also included graphics on how prices have risen during the current administration.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said its opponents are “unnecessarily politicising” high fuel prices and weakening the rupee currency. It blames India’s difficulties on external factors such as the economic crisis in Turkey.

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