Mumbai: The Western Express Highway was blocked on Thursday by Congress workers who were protesting sky-rocketing fuel prices across the nation and especially in the state of Maharashtra.
Maharashtra has seen some of the highest petrol and diesel prices in recent weeks with petrol retailing at Rs 85.29 per litre in Mumbai on Thursday - the highest among all four metros. Initially planned as a peaceful protest, the agitation by Congress workers of Mumbai wing quickly flared up and roads on the busy highway were blocked. Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam was leading the agitation and even took a dig at Bollywood celebrities who had previously questioned UPA for high fuel prices but - according to him - are silent now.
While commuters had to face enormous difficulties due to the highway being blocked for at least two hours, Nirupam later replied to a tweet saying police officials - and not Congress workers had created havoc. He also charged the state government in the same tweet for not reducing taxes.
Earlier in the day, CM Devendra Fadnavis had chosen to blame international crude prices and had then went onto say there was a possibility of petrol and diesel being included in GST. "We have decreased our taxes already but now rates are going up due to rising crude oil prices in international market. So we are trying to make a consensus in GST Council on bringing petroleum under GST," he said at an event.
Protests against high fuel prices have been organised in several other states as well with the opposition accusing the Centre of filling its coffers at the cost of the common man. The BJP has increased excise tax on both petrol and diesel nine times since coming to power in 2014. Now, the call is for the government to either roll back or include fuel prices in GST which too would ensure big relief for consumers.