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Petrol, diesel prices hiked for 10th day in a row; Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi demanding rollback

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Petrol and disease prices were hiked for the tenth day in a row on Tuesday, by the state-owned oil marketing companies across the country, ever since they restarted daily price review, after ending an 82-day hiatus due to lockdown.

Petrol price in Delhi was hiked to Rs 76.73 per litre from Rs 76.26, while diesel rates were increased to Rs 75.19 a litre from Rs 74.26, the price notification said. In Mumbai the cost of petrol is at Rs 83.62 for per litre and diesel is at Rs 73.75 per litre. While in another metro city Kolkata consumers will have to shell out Rs 78.55 per litre and  for diesel Rs 70.84 per litre. While the southern city Chennai the prices for the two fuels stand at Rs 80.37 for a litre of petrol and people will get diesel at Rs 73.17 per litre.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded that fuel prices should be slashed as crude prices have fallen across the world.

“I see no logic in why the Government would even consider such a price increase at a time when the economic impact of Covid-19 is depriving millions of jobs and livelihood, devastating business big and small, rapidly eroding the income of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop for the Kharif season,” wrote Sonia Gandhi.

The letter comes in the wake of fuel prices daily hike taking the total increase since the resumption of the dynamic price revision system to more than Rs 5 per litre.

Sonia wrote in the letter, “I urge you to rollback this increase and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country.”

Sonia Gandhi said, she is “deeply distressed” that in these exceedingly difficult times since the beginning of March, the Government has taken the wholly insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than ten separate occasions.

The Congress President alleged that the Government is seeking to earn an additional revenue of nearly Rs 2,60,000 crore by these ill-advised hikes in excise duty and increase in the petrol and diesel prices.

Sonia in her letter said, “It is a matter of record that despite historically low oil prices over the last six years your government’s revenues have been massively enriched by the cumulative increase in excise duty on petrol and diesel on twelve different occasions (by an additional Rs 23.78 per litre on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel).

This translates into a 258 per cent increase in excise on petrol and 820 per cent hike in excise duty on diesel yielding in these six years a staggering Rs 18,00,000 crore from excise collection on petrol and diesel alone.

“If ever there was a time to deploy these resources in the service of the people, it is now,”said Sonia.

While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the Centre over daily increase in fuel prises on Monday.

He had tweeted, “Middle class, poor pay for gifts crony capitalists get.”

Middle class and the poor pay for the gifts the crony capitalists get. #????_???_??????_????? pic.twitter.com/q69cqlF83Q

— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 15, 2020

Putting together each day’s hike since the past 10 days, petrol price has gone up by Rs 5.47 per litre and diesel by Rs 5.8 a litre.

The hike in diesel rates is the highest daily increase since the state-owned fuel retailers started daily revision in rates in May 2017.

The freeze in rates was imposed in mid-March soon after the government hiked excise duty on petrol and diesel to shore up additional finances.

Oil PSUs Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) instead of passing on the excise duty hikes to customers adjusted them against the fall in the retail rates that was warranted because of fall in international oil prices.

Industry officials said the hike was necessitated because benchmark international rates have bounced back from a two-decade low.

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Congress leader Ahmed Patel passes away at 71

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Congress leader Ahmed Patel passed away this morning at 3.30 a.m. at the age of 71 years after Covid-19 complication in Gurugram Hospital.

His son Faisal Patel tweeted ,”With profound grief I regret to announce that sad and untimely demise of my father on 25/11 at 3.30a.m.”

More than month after testing positive for Covid-19 infection, Patel was under treatment at a Gurugram-based hospital. He was being monitored by a team of doctors.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram tweeted, “Deeply shocked and saddened to learn that my dear friend Ahmed Patel passed away in the early hours of today…For two decades, he was one of the staunchest pillars of the Congress party and a trusted counsellor. He will be profoundly missed…I offer my tribute to his memory and convey my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family.”

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‘Mend ways or get arms and legs broken or may even be killed’: Bengal BJP chief’s warning to TMC

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In a shocking incident, the Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh on Sunday issued a controversial warning to supporters of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He said that they should mend their ways or they risk having their arms and legs broken and may even be killed.

“Didi’s brothers who are creating trouble should change their habits in the next six months otherwise you will have your arms, leg, ribs and head broken. You’ll have to take a trip to the hospital. And if you do more than that, then you will have to go the crematorium,” Ghosh said at a rally in Haldia, reported NDTV.

The BJP leader claimed that the days of the Mamata Banerjee government are numbered. He said central forces will ensure free and fair assembly elections in the state.

“When there was Lalu Raj in Bihar, there used to be Jungle Raj, violence was a daily affair but we drove out the goons – this is called BJP Raj. We changed Jungle Raj to democracy and we want to restore democracy in West Bengal too,” Ghosh said.

“I want to make an announcement that the upcoming assembly elections will not be done under Didi’s police but by Dada’s police. Police wearing khaki dress will stay a hundred metres away from booths under the mango tree, sitting on a chair, chewing khaini and watch the vote,” he said.

Ghosh’s comments come just two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Bengal. His visit was significant as the election in the Didi’s dominated state is due for next year.

During his visit, Home Minister had said that Banerjee was scared to see the rise of BJP in West Bengal and was, thus, deliberately restricting the Central Government’s welfare scheme in the state.

“The death knell for Mamata Banerjee’s government has been sounded. With two-thirds majority in the next Assembly Elections, BJP will form the government in West Bengal in 2021,” Shah was quoted as saying by Bengali portal The Wall.

“Mamata Banerjee is scared. She is scared that’s why she is restricting the implementation of Central Government’s welfare schemes in Bengal. Farmers in Bengal is not getting the 6000 rupees that the centre is paying.

“The poor families are not receiving the medical insurance of Rs 5 lakh. People from marginalised communities are being denied grants for building proper homes and toilets for themselves. The State Government has restricted funds of at least 80 Central Government schemes,” Shah added.

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‘This is my last election’: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during an election rally on Thursday said that this is his last election.

“This is the last day of election. The day after this election will end and this is my last election. Ant bhala to sab bhala (All’s well that ends well),” Nitish Kumar said.

Bihar Chief Minister was campaigning for a candidate of his Janata Dal United in Purnia.

Nitish Kumar has been vocal in attacking the opposition leaders Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) Chirag Paswan as he had said that those who have ‘inherited everything’ have no idea about his work and dedication towards Bihar.

Nitish Kumar in a tweet had said, “What did those who inherited everything know about the tenacity of the workmen. We have dedicated ourselves to this sacred land of Bihar. To serve is my religion.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his first rally in Bihar for the election praised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar government for his “quick response” to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

“If Bihar’s Nitish Kumar government had not acted fast, there would have been many more coronavirus deaths and unimaginable mayhem,” PM had said.

The second phase of polls in Bihar for 94 seats begins on Tuesday.

This election in Bihar is a tripartite contest between NDA – comprising BJP and JDU – while the the second and third fronts are led by Tejashwi Yadav’s JDU, supported by Congress, and Chhirag Paswan’s LJP.

However, LJP’s Paswan has maintained that he is against Nitish by has no grudges with BJP.

In a separate development, Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commissioner said, “We had to reduce voters from 1500 to 1000 per booth in Bihar polls & increase polling booths by 33,000 which meant increasing manpower deployment. But elections in India are virtual festivals of democracy in which people love to take part.”

Bihar elections are being held in three phases  October 28, November 3 and 7 November and the results will be declared on November 10.

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