Angered by the price of petrol, diesel and gas, and looking for someone to blame?
Try the Taliban and the crisis in Afghanistan.
This is a Karnataka BJP MLA Aravind Bellad’s justification for the increase in prices – an increase that began in May, with hikes over several consecutive days, and continued into the following months.
“Because of the Taliban crisis in Afghanistan, there has been a dip in supply of crude oil. Consequently, prices of LPG, petrol and diesel are rising. Voters are mature enough to understand the reasons for price rise,” Mr Bellad, MLA for the Hubli-Dharwad West constituency and among the possible replacements for former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, said.
India is the world’s third-biggest importer (and consumer) of crude oil, but Afghanistan does not figure among its major sellers.
According to news agency Reuters, as of July 2021, the top six countries selling crude oil to India are Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, the United States and Canada.
The situation in Afghanistan does have the potential to affect oil and gas prices, but such an impact is as yet unclear, with the global community (and particularly oil-producing nations) still cautious in their dealing with the Taliban and a nascent Afghan government.
In June Reuters reported that India’s crude oil imports had hit an eight-month low, as refiners cut down processing in the face of a tumultuous second wave of the coronavirus.
The unrelenting increase in fuel (petrol and diesel) and LPG cylinder prices over the past several months have triggered fierce criticism of the Narendra Modi government from both the opposition and members of the public, crores of whom are struggling to make ends meet during a pandemic.
The government has defended itself by blaming the opposition; last month Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it could not lower costs because it had to bear the cost of oil bonds the Congress-led UPA government had issued to companies.