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NEW DELHI: State-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) cut petrol and diesel prices for the second day on Thursday, in the run-up to assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry.

As a result, petrol and diesel prices fell by 21 paise per litre and 20 paise per litre in Delhi respectively on Thursday. While petrol retailed at Rs90.78 per litre, diesel sold for Rs81.10 per litre in the national capital.

Also Read | Lessons from India’s tryst with lockdown

While there was a moderation in global crude oil prices after maintaining an upward trajectory, prices spiked again on Wednesday with the blocking of the Suez Canal. On Thursday, however, oil prices fell due to growing concerns over lockdowns to contain increasing number of coronavirus cases.

Retail prices of diesel and petrol in India have been historically subdued during elections, with three government-run oil marketing companies—Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL)—refraining from raising prices.

State-run OMCs and the government have maintained that there is no correlation between elections and transportation fuel price freeze or reductions. The government’ stand has been that it has got no role in pricing since India’s three government-run oil marketing companies introduced dynamic fuel pricing, wherein fuel prices change daily depending on global oil price fluctuations.

Fuel prices in India have been hovering at record highs, after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec)-plus grouping’s decision to continue with output curbs.

The cost of the Indian basket of crude, which comprises Oman, Dubai and Brent crude, was at $61.61 a barrel on 23 March. Following the covid outbreak, crude prices for Indian basket of crude had plunged to $19.90 in April before recovering to $61.22 a barrel in February, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell showed.

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