While international prices have fallen sharply from an annual average of $105 per barrel in 2013-14 to $46 per barrel in 2015-16 and 2016-17, the Centre has hiked excise duties on petrol and diesel over nine times.
The Budget estimates of gross tax revenues for 2017-18 are the same as the revised estimates for 2016-17 – 11.3% of GDP.
Despite the distress signals, Arun Jaitley has chosen to strictly adhere to a conservative fiscal stance in his successive budgets, prioritising deficit reduction over everything else.
Instead of focussing on people’s issues and movements outside the parliamentary arena, the CPI(M) leadership has continued to preoccupy itself with a sterile debate over an electoral alliance with the Congress in Bengal.
Mamata Bannerjee has reneged on all promises, but there is no political force to challenge her