Image of protestors at Bharat Bandh in Lucknow (Source: PTI)

Bharat Bandh A Total Success, Says Moily As He Defends UPA’s Economics

Rising fuel prices proved a political flashpoint once again, due to the Bharat Bandh (national shutdown) that was called by various opposition parties on Monday.

Over 20 parties led by the Congress took part in the Bandh, protesting the high fuel prices and the depreciating rupee. The central government, however, clarified that the retail fuel prices are rising due to global factors.

Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily—who was the Union petroleum minister from Oct. 2012 to May 2014 in the UPA-II government—told BloombergQuint about the measures that the then administration adopted to cushion the impact of high fuel prices as Brent crude turned expensive.

The former minister said that they did away with the administered price regime resulting in pricing benefits for consumers. “The UPA government introduced subsidies to cushion the impact of high fuel prices as global crude prices rose,” he said, adding, “Remember, we (the government) spent nearly Rs 5.7 lakh crore on oil subsidies.”

Central government is earning 193 percent more from excise duty on petrol and diesel in 2017-18 than it was in my regime (2013-2014). So they should cut excise duty on fuel.
Veerappa Moily, Former Petroleum Minister

Also read: Strike Hits India as Opposition Unites Over Record Fuel Prices

‘Bharat Bandh A Total Success’

Moily said the Bharat Bandh is a total success and that a united opposition (Mahagathbandhan) has evolved into a strong political alternative. The former minister expressed confidence at the united opposition’s prospects in next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress leader from Karnataka criticised the Narendra Modi government for its economic performance and said demonetisation and the flawed implementation of the Goods and Services Tax has damaged the Indian economy.

Here’s the full conversation: