Fight Back Anti-People Policies of RSS-BJP Rule
S Sudhakar Reddy
The Communist Party of India will be observing all over the country on June 20, 2018 a protest day against the continuous and massive hike in prices of petrol, diesel and LPG, which has resulted in the rise of prices of all essential commodities. The call for the mass protests was given by the national executive of the party which met in New Delhi on June 3 and 4, 2018. The meeting demanded immediate roll back of the hike in excise duty nine times during the past three years as well as bringing back the administered price mechanism to decide the fuel prices.
The RSS controlled BJP government led by Narendra Modi has no concern for the problems of the people and mopped up nearly 40 per cent of its indirect tax kitty from the two auto fuels in 2015-16, compared to 34 per cent in the previous financial year through massive jump in excise duty.
Party units must remember that the programme on June 20 will be the first one after the historic 23rd Party Congress held at Kollam and therefore all efforts must be made to mobilise all our members, supporters and sympathisers to give a befitting rebuff to the anti-people policies of the Modi government. It is a well known fact that the rise in the price of fuels will have a cascading effect on the prices of all essential commodities, forcing the people to further tighten their daily budgets which are already under tremendous pressure.
According to economists, every rupee per litre increase leads to a 0.02-0.07 percentage point rise in inflation linked to wholesale price index. Even party has been warning the governments on the cascading effect of fuel price-hike on the prices of every other item.
Inflation Now at Four-Month High
All the warnings predicting the cascading effect of fuel price-hike fell on the deaf ears of the RSS-BJP leaders including Modi and petroleum minister though the consumer inflation is at four months’ high. It accelerated at the fastest pace in May, driven by higher fuel prices and a depreciating rupee, official data released on June 12 showed, reinforcing the possibility of another interest rate increase by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in August, which again will worsen the inflation scenario.
The annual retail inflation rose in May to 4.87 per cent from April’s 4.58 per cent. Even core inflation, which excludes often volatile food and fuel prices, increased to 5.95 per cent in May from 5.7 per cent in April, mirroring higher prices of manufactured goods. So far in 2018, retail prices of petrol have climbed 9.2 per cent and diesel by 13.7 per cent in the national capital. It is either same or higher in other places.
It should be noted here that May was the seventh straight month in which inflation was higher than the RBI’s medium-term target. The RBI has revised up its inflation forecast to 4.7 per cent for the second half of the current fiscal year ending in March 2019, from 4.4 per cent estimated earlier.
Party units should keep in mind that as the Modi regime in its fifth and last year of its term will soon be facing a string of state elections leading up to general elections in 2019. Hence it becomes the duty of every communist to expose the government fully on the price front keeping in mind the desperate RSS-BJP governments will try to play down the cascading effect on the entire economy.
The fuel price-hike is the third calculatedly done policy drive after demonetisation and GST, the negative impact of which is still hampering the economic well being of individual citizens as well as the country’s economy as a whole. These are not accidental policy moves but wilful offences done to pamper corporate houses and MNCs.
Regressive Taxation Policy
The Modi government has not only neglected the public sector petroleum units but imposed on them a regressive taxation policy causing irreparable damage to the economy and people of this country. The fund-starved government to overcome its pitfalls caused by demonetisation and GST found an easy way ignoring its anti-people impact of imposing high excise duty on fuel. Despite global crude oil prices being comparatively low, fuel rates are at record high. Oil and gas PSUs are being forced to surrender to Reliance Industries of Ambanis. In fact since May 26, 2014 when Modi took over as the prime minister, international crude oil prices have been down to 73 per cent of what it was. Yet domestic petrol and diesel prices have been hiked to 108 per cent and 123 per cent respectively. Nothing more is needed to expose the anti-people attitude of the RSS-BJP government.
It is only quite natural that people expect that they will soon be able to enjoy the benefit of lower crude prices. In reality they were being fooled with the imposition of higher excise duty. According to reports the increase in excise duty on petrol since May, 2014 is 211.7 per cent while that in excise duty on diesel is 443.06 per cent.
A study by Bloomberg – ‘Gasoline Prices Around the World: The Real Cost of Filling Up’ – found that of the 61 countries surveyed, India ranked the worst in fuel affordability. If we apply 28 per cent (the highest GST slab) to the price at which dealers purchase petrol, that is Rs 37.43 per litre, we still get a price of Rs 47.91 per litre. Currently, India’s consumers pay 60 per cent more for petrol than they would have if it was brought under GST.
In the light of the above facts it is not just a fuel hike that needs to be exposed. Party comrades should expose fully the anti-people attitude of the government in general, in particular of spiraling of prices already caused by government’s negligence to farmers’ woes, deepening agrarian crisis, falling of value of rupee, etc. The protest day should also focus on the vulnerability of neo-liberal policies which are doing havoc to the economies of developing countries including that of ours. To sum up, the maiden programme should be able to strengthen the party’s hold on the masses which is essential to lead militant struggles to ensure the exit of the Modi government.
The protest day on June 20 should become a starting point for a more vigorous campaign to expose four years disaster under the RSS controlled Modi government. The National Executive has given a call for such a campaign during the first fortnight of August.