Bring oil back to 2014 prices, Congress dares Modi (Lead)
New Delhi : As the Centre on Thursday announced a Rs 2.50 per litre cut in petrol and diesel prices, the Congress dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring the fuel prices back to the 2014 level, instead of throwing a "pittance of one or two rupees" at the public.
The Congress also claimed that the Modi government was selling petrol and diesel to many foreign countries at less than half the prices at which these were sold in India.
Addressing the media here, Congress Spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala called the cut, as a result of reduction in excise duty, "a panic reaction in the face of public anger" ahead of Assembly polls in four states.
"Petrol and diesel in India is sold in the range of Rs 84 to Rs 90 and Rs 75 to Rs 80 respectively (Delhi and Mumbai) but an RTI reply has revealed that the Modi government is selling petrol to 15 countries at just Rs 34 per litre and selling diesel to 29 nations at a mere Rs 37," Surjewala said.
He said that the countries to which the fuel were being sold cheaper include the UK, Australia, Malaysia and Israel.
Pointing to the fact that the Modi government, ever since coming to power in May 2014, has increased central excise duty 12 times -- 211 per cent for petrol and 443 per cent for diesel -- the Congress leader accused the NDA regime of effecting a "fuel loot" totalling Rs 13 lakh crore.
"This price reduction is a panic reaction. If the government is serious, it should have withdrawn the excise hike of 211 per cent on petrol and 443 per cent on diesel levied since May 2014," he said.
He also claimed that Value Added Tax on fuel -- which contributed to high prices -- was the highest in BJP-ruled states like Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam, and Haryana, and questioned why the BJP was not getting VAT reduced in these states to give relief to the masses.
The opposition party also demanded to know why the government was not trying to control the skyrocketing prices of cooking gas.