Diesel consumption has risen sharply by almost 13-14 per cent in Punjab this month, with poll candidates riding in fuel-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUV) and top-end sedans followed by huge retinues as they campaign in their respective constituencies.
Fuel companies pointed out that against just 2-3 per cent growth observed in monthly diesel during normal times, sales of diesel have shot up by almost 14 per cent during the election period, their highest level in the current fiscal.
Though officials in oil marketing companies pointed out that several factors could be responsible for the surge in diesel sales, like the number of vehicle additions per month, they acknowledged that high usage of fuel in elections was one of the primary reasons for the jump in diesel sales.
Indian Oil, which has an over 60 per cent share of fuel sales in Punjab, has observed a 14.18 per cent jump in diesel sales between January 1 and 17.
"We have seen a growth over 14 per cent in diesel sales till January 17," an official of Indian Oil said.
The average monthly consumption of diesel in Punjab is pegged at 2.68 lakh kilo litres.
However, petrol sales did not see any significant growth, with sales increasing by just 1-2 per cent. Monthly sales of petrol in Punjab amount to 73,260 KL.
The majority of poll candidates contesting the Punjab assembly elections own several luxury SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner, Toyota Innova and Honda CRV, besides BMW and Mercedes-branded vehicles.
Among the prominent candidates, it is People's Party of Punjab Chief Manpreet Singh Badal who has the largest fleet of vehicles, followed by the Congress candidate from Ferozepur Parminder Singh, sugar baron and Congress candidate Rana Gurjit Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal candidate from Kapurthala Sarabjeet Singh Makkar.
Punjab is an important market for every automobile maker, with close to 500-600 vehicles including SUVs and sedans of all brands costing above Rs 10 lakh sold every month across Punjab. These vehicles constitute almost 15 per cent of total car sales in Punjab, industry experts said.