Has Rahul thrown a right challenge?

Good grip of a subject and spitting fire when time comes is what makes one successful in politics. Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s challenge on fuel price is a big shocker. Team BJP, which always targets Rahul by making fun of his words, is silent this time.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who taunts Rahul by calling him prince is lost for words. During last four years, the Centre earned over Rs.4 lakh crore from petroleum products. But nobody is opening their mouth. Rahul Gandhi threw a challenge to launch an agitation over this. The Centre, which is known for hiding facts with publicity campaign, is maintaining silence. It is saying that its schemes are its shield.

On completion of four years in power, Narendra Modi decided to go to people with a new slogan. This slogan is ‘saaf niyat, sahi vikas’ (clean intent, right development). When petroleum prices could have been reduced, the government did not provide this benefit to people. The government acted like those businessmen who despite the reduction in prices, sell their good at old rates. It is collecting lot of money in the name of various cesses. The Centre gets Rs.20 for every liter of petrol and Rs.15 for every liter of diesel as customs duty. State government also earn Rs.25 to Rs.35 in the form of sales tax and VAT. Whenever prices increased, they also hiked the cesses to put more burden. Middle classes are hit hard by this. From vegetables to groceries, the hike is having impact on everything. The reason is increase in transportation charges. The Centre is saying that it has no role in this and that it can’t do anything when prices go up. It is giving free advise to state governments to reduce taxes. If the Centre feels that this burden has to be shared for economic progress of the country then the people are ready. But there should be no room for politics.

The Centre wants to have the cake and eat it too. It wants the money from people’s pockets through petroleum prices and it also hopes to get their mandate so that it continues in power. In view of the elections in Karnataka, it controlled prices for about 20 days. After the elections, it hiked the prices by 3 to 4 rupees per liter during last 15 days.  Price hike is unacceptable decision for people. Increasing the prices in retaliation for not voting the party is a political decision. Can controlling the prices for power and after the purpose is served hiking the prices be described as ‘saaf niyat’? The government should ponder over this. Similarly, we can’t say that Congress is not doing politics. Former finance minister Chidambaram said in his statement that the prices can be cut down by Rs.25 per liter. He should clarify how many times this was done during his tenure. Both the parties are playing politics and burning hole in the pocket of common man. It was done by Congress in the past and now being done by BJP. Only parties have changed.

The Centre has prepared a big plan to publicise its schemes. In the past, rice bucket challenge became popular. The central government tried to create awareness among people with fitness challenge. Rahul has thrown fuel price challenge. The government is looking to celebrate completion of its four years with publicity. To counter this, Congress leaders began working on petrol prices. Congress has already asked its cadre to effectively use the weapon of petrol prices reaching life time peak. It will be government schemes versus petroleum prices. Thus the government and the opposition are gearing up for the battle. Let us wait and watch which issue attracts the people.

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