It was as if India was waiting for the BJP to come to power and bring prices under control. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to bring the ‘achhe din’ he promised by arresting spiralling prices. On the contrary, the grim realities of the economy seem to have forced him to hike fuel prices and train fares within the first month itself.
Incidentally, the BJP had in its manifesto underlined its promise of a price stabilisation fund to check inflation. But within weeks of coming to power, on June 16, the PM warned of “tough decisions” over the next couple of years to improve the country’s fiscal health. It seems Modi had finally realised that while it is easy to criticise the government for taking ‘hard decisions’, it was actually difficult not to take them while in power.
Here is a list of the “tough decisions” taken by the Modi government since May 26:
June 20: Rail fare hike
In what was the biggest hike in railway fares for decades, the Modi pushed up all passenger fares by 14.2 per cent and freight charges by 6.5 per cent effective from June 25. The Railways, however, clarified that 4.2 per cent of the fare hike was on account of a variable Fuel Adjustment Component (FAC) approved in last year’s rail budget, the remaining 10 per cent was a flat hike across all classes. But within days, giving in to the mounting pressure from ally Shiv Sena, the NDA government rolled back the fare hike for second class suburban trains.
The Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda defended the government’s measure of rail fare hike saying the decision had been taken by the previous regime as part of the interim rail budget, but its “implementation” was withheld till May 16.
Incidentally, in 2012, Modi had written a letter to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh protesting the 20% hike in rail freight rates. As Gujarat chief minister, he had not only protested against the rail fare hike, but also termed the move by the UPA government ‘anti-poor’ and ‘anti-farmer’.
Just before Rail Budget UPA
has suddenly increased railway freight rates bypassing
Parliament. Wrote to PM against this http://t.co/Dr9s4vob
The last rail fare hike took place in October 2013 when the passenger fares went up by two per cent and the freight charges increased by 1.7 per cent. Before this, railway minister Pawan Bansal had increased fares by 5-10% in June 2013.
June 23: Hike in sugar import duty
The Modi government announced that it will raise the import duty on sugar to 40 per cent from 15 per cent and will extend export subsidy of Rs 3,300 per tonne till September this year. Following the decision, the wholesale price rose by up to Rs 2 per kg to Rs 33.40.
June 30: Petrol and diesel price hike
The government increased petrol prices by a steep Rs 1.69 per litre and diesel by the expected 50 paise a litre.
Diesel rates were hiked in continuation with the previous UPA government’s January 2013 policy of raising prices in small doses every month to eliminate subsidy.
The last fuel price hike was announced on March 1 , when the petrol rates were raised by about 75 paise. However, during the Lok Sabha polls in April, the fuel rates were cut down by about Rs 1.74 paise. Prior to this, the petrol rates were revised upwards by 75 paise a litre (excluding State levies) with effect from January 4, 2014.
July 01: LPG price hike
Adding to the burden on the common man, the charges of non-subsidised cooking gas (LPG) was raised by Rs 16.50 per cylinder and that of jet fuel by over half-a-per cent, the first hike in six months. The LPG price hike was attributed to the surge in international oil prices due to the ongoing Iraq crisis.
The non-subsidised LPG cylinder, which customers buy after using up their quota of 12 subsidised cylinders, will now cost Rs 922.50 in Delhi, up from Rs 906. Last month, non-subsidised LPG rates were cut by Rs 23.50 per cylinder. A subsidised LPG cylinder in Delhi costs Rs 414.