To protest against the skyrocketing fuel prices and sinking rupee, at least 21 Opposition parties, led by the Congress, called a nationwide shutdown on Monday and came together to target the Narendra Modi government over its “failure” to tackle the steep rise in the prices of petrol and diesel and revive the weakening currency.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, along with several other leaders of Opposition parties gathered at a petrol pump near Delhi’s Ramlila ground and launched a scathing attack on the Modi government.
While the Congress president questioned Modi silence on spiralling fuel prices and depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar, Manmohan Singh said that the ruling NDA government had “crossed all limits” and called upon the people of the country to change it now.
The Congress party was demanding the Modi government at the Centre to bring petrol and diesel under the GST - a move that can reduce the fuel prices by Rs 15-18 per litre.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, showed no sign of giving relief to the common man bearing the brunt of high fuel prices and said that it was “beyond its control” to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel.
The BJP attributed the rise in oil prices to global factors and accused the Opposition of resorting to “dance of violence and game of death” to enforce the shutdown upon the people.
On Monday, the prices of petrol and diesel pushed to a record high. While the petrol shot up to Rs 89.97 per litre in Maharashtra's Parbhani, the highest ever in India, diesel prices stood at Rs 77.92.
Meanwhile, the Indian rupee on Monday cracked to a new lifetime low of 74.45 against the US dollar.
Heavy speculative dollar demand along with panic among importers sent the domestic currency tumbling by a sharp 94 paise to hit a historic low of 72.67 in mid-morning trade, triggering the central bank intervention to defend the currency. It finished the day 72 paise lower against the American currency - its biggest one-day crash since August 13.
(With inputs from agencies)