The seven-week-old BJP-led Assam government Wednesday faced large-scale protests over the increase in VAT on nearly 127 items, partial withdrawal of subsidy on LPG cylinders and hike in petrol and diesel prices that came into effect four days ago.
While the decision to increase VAT from existing 5 per cent to 6 per cent was taken in the first Cabinet meeting of the Sarbananda Sonowal government on June 26, the government had not made it public until the tax hike became effective from July 2. LPG cylinders, meanwhile, have become costlier by Rs 14, while the cost of petrol and diesel has increased by 76 paise and Re 1.67, respectively.
“The people had voted for change. But, while the government did change, the first thing it has done within seven weeks is to increase tax and thus hit the common people who had so overwhelmingly voted for the BJP-led alliance,” former chief minister and Congress leader Tarun Gogoi said in Guwahati Wednesday.
Sonowal, however, said in Dibrugarh: “We have been compelled to increase VAT on certain items due to the critical financial position of the government. But I can assure you that this is not going to affect the common people.”