The increase in price will go against the party’s national narrative, says Congress leader
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is expected to cut at least 1% hike in taxes proposed on fuel and electricity consumption as the coalition partner Congress appears to be peeved with the budget proposal, which would be a burden on the common people.
Congress sources told The Media that the fuel price by the State government would go against the party’s national narrative, though the fuel prices in the State are lowest in comparison with southern States.
With elections to the Lok Sabha less than a year away, the party would ask the Chief Minister either to scrap the entire proposal or reduce the hike in taxes by 50%, a Congress leader said. In fact, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had repeatedly targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over fuel prices, including the time when he accepted India captain Virat Kohli’s fitness challenge.
To mobilise resources to write off the ₹34,000 crore loans from cooperative and nationalised banks, the budget increased tax on petrol from the present 30% to 32% and diesel from 19% to 21%. Tax on liquor has been increased by 4% and consumption of electricity from 6% to 9%.
The party leader said that the Chief Minister has not discussed the fuel hike proposal in detail in the State Cabinet. The Congress had not anticipated budgetary proposal on hike in fuel prices. Since the proposed hikes are against the stance taken by the party at the national level, senior leaders of the party might ask the Chief Minister to scrap the proposal or reduce the taxes, the leader said.
Sources said that after discussions on the State budget, the Chief Minister is expected to make an announcement of reduction in the taxes on fuel during the reply to the State budget.
The Opposition BJP, which has been targeting the Chief Minister on farm loan waiver, would now step up its attack on the Congress for indulging in “double speaking”, opposing the fuel price hike at the Centre and endorsing the budget proposal in the State.
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who presented the State budget on February 16, 2018 before the Assembly elections had not increased taxes on fuel. But he increased existing rates of additional excise duty on Indian Made Liquor by 8% from the 2nd slab to the 18th slab.