Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) president K S Alagiri with party workers stage a ‘symbolic’ protest against frequent hikes in the prices of petrol and diesel, in front of a fuel station, in Chennai, Friday, June 11, 2021.(PTI)
‘Rahul Gandhi must answer’: Oil minister on fuel price hikes in Congress-ruled states
Union minister for petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday trained guns at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his attacks o the central government over rising fuel prices. Pradhan said Gandhi should ask chief ministers of states where Congress is in power if he is concerned about the burden on the common man.
Fuel prices in seven Indian states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have already crossed the ₹100-mark, registering historic highs.
“Rahul Gandhi must answer why is fuel expensive in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab? If Rahul Gandhi is concerned about the poor being hit by fuel prices, he should ask chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to cut taxes,” Pradhan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Gandhi should ask Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to reduce taxes, Pradhan added.
However, the petroleum minister did not suggest a similar action for states ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, where the consumers are feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices. The fuel prices have been hiked 23 times since last month.
Rahul Gandhi, in his latest attack on the government, asked as to how much will the BJP “loot”. “GDP crashing, Unemployment soaring, Fuel prices skyrocketing. In how many more ways is #BJPLootingIndia,” he asked in a tweet on Friday.
Congress on Friday held demonstrations in several parts of the country against the rising fuel prices, during which over 150 members were detained in Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh for allegedly violating Covid protocol and protesting without permission.
Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT and freight charges. As a result, the petrol retails at over ₹100 per litre mark in six states and union territories – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Ladakh.
Petrol and diesel have risen to an all-time high across the country after fuel rates rose by ₹5.72 to ₹6.25 per litre in less than six weeks.
Pradhan’s remarks came during an inauguration of a medical oxygen generating plant at Maharaj Agrasen Hospital in New Delhi, the first of seven such units being set up by state-run oil companies in the national capital ahead of the impending third wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
Acknowledging the brunt borne by citizens, Pradhan said he accepts that fuel prices are pinching consumers. The central and state governments need additional money from the taxes on petrol and diesel to meet expenses for fighting pandemic as well as development work, he told the reporters.
The spike in fuel prices in India is due to a combination of rising international oil prices and record-high central and state taxes.
While international oil prices have crossed USD 72 per barrel in anticipation of demand recovery following the rollout of vaccination programme by various countries.
Last year, when rates collapsed to a two-decade low, the Union government instead of passing on the benefit to consumers raised excise duty to record high.