While the Opposition called for a nationwide strike against the hike in fuel prices under Bharat Bandh led by Congress today, the Vasundhara Raje government of Rajasthan has announced a 4% reduction in value-added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel.

A total of 21 opposition parties and a bunch of commerce and traders’ associations have called for a nationwide strike to protest against the NDA government over the uncontrolled hike in fuel prices, the depreciating value of rupee and demands for a probe regarding Rafale deal. Tagged as “Bharat Bandh”, the protest was called after the prices of petrol were raised by 12 paise a litre and diesel by 10 paise per litre on Sunday – touching highest rates with Rs 80.50 per litre petrol and Rs 72.61 a litre for diesel in Delhi.

Amid Bharat Bandh, Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje announced a 4% slash-down in VAT levied on fuel by the state government. After implementation of new VAT tariffs in Rajasthan, the VAT on petrol will be reduced from 30 to 26 per cent and on diesel from 22 to 18 per cent. The reduction in VAT will reduce the cost of fuel by Rs 2.5 per litre – which will be a major relief for the people of Rajasthan. However, one man’s pleasure could be another man’s pain and the decision of VAT slash down will burden the government with Rs 2,000 crore loss.

Raje claims that the decision of VAT reduction was made to “provide much-needed relief to the people of the state, be it farmers or women or others”. But the announcement was made during a public meeting in Rawatsar, Hanumangarh as part of her Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra – just ahead of Rajasthan elections that are scheduled by the end of this year. Regardless of the agenda of Raje government, the reduction is a major relief for common man indeed.