Twit­ter fumes as BJP down­plays hike in graphic

Financial Chronicle - - FUNDAMENTALS, POLITICS - ADITYA KALRA

AS anger grows over record fuel prices, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is get­ting advice on so­cial me­dia to seek lessons in math­e­mat­ics and graphic de­sign af­ter it posted a bar-chart graphic that showed fuel prices lower than in prior years. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is fac­ing crit­i­cism for not do­ing enough to cut fuel taxes that ac­count for more than a third of re­tail petrol and diesel prices, which have soared to record highs this month.

Twit­ter users on Tues­day de­rided the BJP over a graphic, which showed the price of petrol in New Delhi, the capital, at Rs 80.7 a litre, while us­ing an ar­row show­ing a drop of 13 per cent, rather than a rise, to com­pare it to a price of Rs 71.4 four years ago. Ti­tled “Truth of Hike”, the graphic in­cluded Modi’s pic­ture and used four bars to show petrol price rises since 2004, but rep­re­sented the cur­rent, higher price with a smaller bar.

The post was retweeted 2,100 times, at­tracted 3,200 com­ments and fig­ured on prime­time news shows af­ter it was posted late on Mon­day, be­com­ing the butt of jokes on so­cial me­dia, with some users ques­tion­ing how Rs 80 could be less than Rs 70.

Amit Malviya, the chief of the BJP’s IT cell, said the graphic was not be­ing in­ter­preted cor­rectly and was aimed only at show­ing that the 13 per cent in­crease since 2014 was lower than in previous years. “It may sound para­dox­i­cal, but that is what it is,” Malviya said.

Twit­ter users were un­con­vinced. Zaineb Hakim joked, “Based on this graph, you are all en­ti­tled to a full re­fund from the math­e­mat­ics depart­ment of the school you grad­u­ated from, as­sum­ing you did at­tend one.” User Jas Oberoi, wrote, “Modiji needs to spend tax­pay­ers’ money on a bet­ter in­fo­graphic provider. This is out­ra­geous,” re­fer­ring to the prime min­is­ter with a hon­orific suf­fix.

Yet an­other user Deepak Sri­vas­tava wrote, “A govt that cheats n mis­leads has no right to to lead. It's im­por­tant for govt to humbly ac­cept petrol price hike, show­ing mis­lead­ing graph cre­ate deficit. Peo­ple not fools.”

Past govern­ments have usu­ally cut fuel taxes when in­ter­na­tional oil prices shot up, but Modi’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has so far blamed global fac­tors, such as Turkey’s eco­nomic cri­sis.

The fuel price hike has also fur­nished am­mu­ni­tion for the op­po­si­tion Congress to crit­i­cise Modi ahead of gen­eral elec­tions next year. It coun­tered the BJP’s graphic with its own, show­ing a cry­ing Bol­ly­wood ac­tor look­ing at the graphic and retweet­ing in­verted ver­sions of the BJP chart.

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