Moments after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the Centre's decision to cut Rs 2.50 per litre on petrol and diesel prices, the Congress hit out at the Narendra Modi government, terming the price slash a "band aid on a deep wound".
Calling it “a panic reaction in the face of public anger” ahead of the 2018 assembly elections in five states, Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala dared the Modi government to bring the fuel prices back to the 2014 level instead of throwing a “pittance of one or two rupees” at the public.
“This price reduction is a panic reaction facing the anger of people because of upcoming elections. If he was serious, he should have withdrawn the excise hike of 211% on Petrol and 443% on Diesel since May 2014,” Surjewala reiterated.
In a scathing attack on the Centre, Surjewala said, "Inflation is as big as an elephant and reduction is as small as an ant", adding that "Modi government has declared a meagre decrease in prices of fuels".
"Answer the people of this country about the Rs 13 lakh crore fuel loot earned from central excise tax," he was quoted as saying.
Surjewala said, "Why does Modi govt sell cheap fuel to foreign countries? Modi govt sells petrol to 15 foreign countries at Rs 34/litre and diesel to 29 foreign countries at 37/litre."
The Congress spokesperson was addressing a press conference in the national capital following the Centre's announcement of Rs 2.50 slash in petrol and diesel prices this evening.
To stress on the depreciating rupee since early September, Surjewala said, "As the Modi Govt watches clueless, the fall in the Indian Rupee is hurting business and valuation in India".
As the Modi Govt watches clueless, the fall in the Indian Rupee is hurting business and valuation in India. https://t.co/zEFz8YY3sE— Congress (@INCIndia) October 4, 2018
The press release by the Congress spokesperson also highlighted fuel loot by the Modi government. Surjewala was referring to an RTI reply that revealed that the Modi government was selling petrol and diesel to several countries at less than half the price at which it was being sold in India.
Pointing out at the highest VAT on fuel in BJP ruled states such as Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam, and Haryana, Surjewala demanded that petrol and diesel be brought in the ambit of GST rather than giving such meagre cuts in the prices.
Talking about other opposition parties, TMC chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said the Centre should slash fuel prices by Rs 10 per litre at least and also withdraw the cess on petroleum products.
"The central government should slash fuel prices by Rs 10 at least. This government at the Centre is not bothered about the well-being of the masses... They are only interested about their party (BJP)," Banerjee was quoted as saying in a programme in Siliguri.
On a related note, West Bengal government had last month slashed petrol and diesel prices by Re 1 per litre.
Stepping on the shoes of Mamata Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "It is a shame. The Centre should have at least reduced prices by Rs. 10 per litre".
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Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, on the other hand, said, "The reduction of Rs 2.50 per litre in petrol and diesel prices announced by the Maharashtra government Thursday would not give much relief to people".
"Current prices (of petrol) are around Rs 92 per litre. So the price cut does not make any difference. There should be a substantial reduction," Chavan was quoted as saying by PTI.