Fuel prices are hurting. Petrol prices have broken Rs 85/ litre in several cities. Is this supposed to be Achche Din?
Of course not.
Well, how could it be? We all like to splurge and then we hate it when the bill comes due. Except, in this case, it is not us who splurged, it was our overlords in the UPA government who did and left us stuck with the bill.
Well, why won’t the government just cut the fuel prices? If you are asking this, you probably do not know the kind of deep well that UPA dug for us before they left office.
When global oil prices rose in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the UPA’s reputation, along with India’s economy, was already collapsing. If public anger had been stoked any further by surging oil prices, the Congress might have been reduced to single digits in 2014. The ruling dispensation had already scammed pretty much everything available on land, air, sea and even in space. There was only one thing left to do. They could scam us out of our future earnings.
So how did the UPA lower oil prices? Instead of paying Oil Manufacturing Companies (OMCs) in cash, the government started ‘paying’ them in ‘oil bonds’. An ‘oil bond’ is not money, it’s just a promise that the government will pay them in the future, preferably under a different ruling party that will be left to bear the brunt.
Think of it as the UPA paying for oil with a post-dated check. Only worse, because when you issue a bond, you also have to pay interest on it. So it is more like a credit card.
By the time Modi Sarkar came to power, the UPA had already swiped its credit card to borrow a whopping Rs 1.3 lakh crore worth of oil. In the last four years, the Modi government has had to pay back UPA’s debt in full along with Rs 70,000 crore in interest.
While Modi has been paying UPA’s credit card bill, the Congress Party has been on the streets asking: why won’t PM Modi cut oil prices? Is this Achche Din?
Think of it as a father who mortgages the ancestral home to pay for his gambling habit and then runs away one day, leaving his sons and daughters to pay back the loan.
Only worse, because once those sons and daughters have worked hard and repaid the loan, the father comes back and asserts his right to ownership of that ancestral home.
Strip the orchard bare and run away. Let someone else tend to the garden. Come back when the fruit is ripe for picking.
This is what Congress has always been: always there for the taking and never there for the making.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.