New Delhi: After the newly elected NDA government’s announcement of its maiden budget, cigarette smokers are in for a surprise. Cigarette price will go up by 12-14% for regular length cigarettes where excise duty has been increased by 11-21%, and the smaller size cigarettes prices will go up from Rs. 2/- per stick to Rs. 2.5-3 per stick thanks to a whopping 72% increase in duties.
“We have chosen to increase the duties on cigarettes to act as a deterrent and discourage the citizens from the habit of smoking,” Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while announcing the details. “This will help in curbing the number of smokers in the country,” Mr. Jaitley continued.
“This is not fair. We will start rioting, looting and murdering all around if prices of cigarettes are not reduced,” Mr. Sutta Joshi a college student and a chain smoker allegedly threatened to some reporters after the budget announcement, “Its hurts our sentiments, since we are so attached to cigarettes,” he continued.
As per sources, the word ‘sentiments’ sent shivering waves down the spine of some Congress leaders which triggered a path-breaking idea in the mind of Congress party president Sonia Gandhi.
“We will fight for the rights of smokers. If majority of people in the country stop smoking, then only few active smokers will be left. We will fight for their minority status so that they are not bullied by the majority non-smokers,” Sonia Gandhi shared her views with the reporters shortly after the announcement.
“Sonia madam will write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing him to declare smokers as ‘minority’ status and grant them constitutional safeguards such as reservation in public undertaking and employment,” a Congress spokesperson told media-persons yesterday.
According to sources in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is reportedly in a war against its UPA ally Congress to patent a new votebank. “Hum chunaav jeete, toh smokers ke liye badlaav layenge (if we win, we will bring change for smokers),” an SP spokesperson asserted to local reporters in Lucknow.
Mulayam Singh Yadav received widespread acknowledgment and credit for discovering a new votebank of ‘rapists’ previously when he promised to bring changes in rape laws saying “ladkon se galti ho jaati hai (boys make mistakes),” which was well-received by many rapists and prospective offenders.
Political analysts have concluded that smokers will be a handy and decisive minority during assembly elections which are scheduled to take place in various states. Intellectuals and liberals across the media have appealed smokers to watch out for their interests and be vigilant and decisive in their voting.