Sinha urges people to refrain from paying taxes

In the wake of the hike in the petrol prices, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday gave a call to the people to stop cooperating with the government and refrain from paying taxes.

Its message to the Congress' allies and supporters, inside and outside the government, was that they must make their stand clear or be prepared to share the blame for the hike.

The former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha, said people could no longer afford to wait for the government to complete its tenure; they must “revolt” against it by not paying taxes.

At the same time, he would not say whether the BJP would bring a motion of no-confidence against the Manmohan Singh-led government. “The winter session will start shortly. Our parliamentary party will meet and decide,” he said.

While giving credit to the National Democratic Alliance government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee for de-regulating the prices of petroleum products and thus delinking them from government decisions, he blamed the United Progressive Alliance government for not lowering taxes on these products so as to absorb the price hike owing to higher cost of international crude.

Asked if the government ought to go back to administered prices, he said while it was not a mistake to deregulate oil prices, it should be handled in a constructive manner by the government, by absorbing increases through a cut in taxes.

Mr. Sinha described the government as “most insensitive” to the plight of the common man. Neither Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nor Congress President Sonia Gandhi knew the “real India” and the “suffering of its people.” In the last monsoon session, he pointed out, the UPA too had voted for a joint resolution, promising to take effective steps to curb prices. Instead, on Thursday, the food inflation figures were at a peak and at midnight the petrol prices were raised.

Mr. Sinha reeled out statistics on crude prices, relating them to the petrol prices during the NDA rule and the UPA period. He said the international crude price ranged from $10 to $40 a barrel in the six-year period from 1998 to 2004 with an average price of less than $30. The price of petrol in 2004, “when we left the government,” was just over Rs.33 a litre.

He compared this to the UPA period, when the international crude price touched a high of $146 a barrel in July 2008 with an average price of $80. The petrol price, he noted was now just around the Rs.68 a litre mark. He did not explain why, according to him, the petrol price relative to the price of crude was lower during the NDA regime; for the average crude price, according to him, was 160 per cent higher during the UPA regime but petrol price a litre just under 110 per cent higher.

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