Rahul Gandhi's remarks come after the central government hiked excise duty and cess on petrol by Rs 10 per litre and on diesel by Rs 13 a litre.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday slammed the Centre for increasing the prices on petrol and diesel. Terming the rise in fuel prices as unfair, Rahul demanded that the government immediately roll back the increased prices. He said that at a time when the fight against coronavirus is causing economic hardships to all, the government has chosen to increase fuel prices instead of reducing them.
“The ongoing battle with the coronavirus is causing severe economic hardship for our crores of brothers and sisters. At this time, instead of reducing prices, the decision of the government to raise prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 10-13 per litre is unfair and should be withdrawn,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Rahul’s tweet comes after the Centre hiked excise duty and cess on petrol by Rs 10 per litre and on diesel by Rs 13 a litre. However, the retail prices of petrol and diesel will not be impacted by the rise in excise duty and cess as oil companies have said that they will adjust them against the recent fall in international crude oil prices. This was the second hike in excise duty in less than two months.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also unsparing in her attack against the government over its decision to hike excise duty on petrol and diesel. In a series of tweets, Priyanka said that the government was busy filling its coffers at a time when the benefit of low crude oil prices should have been transferred to the consumers.
“The people should benefit from the low crude oil prices. But the BJP government repeatedly hikes excise duty so that the benefit that should have gone to the consumers is instead used to fill its own suitcase. Who is the government collecting this money for? The labourers, farmers, middle-class, industry, nobody is benefiting from the fall in crude oil price,” she said.
Senior Congress leader and former Finance minister P Chidambaram too voiced opposition to the government’s decision, suggesting New Delhi must borrow to meet deficits and not impose higher tax burdens when economic activity has ground to a halt amid the coronavirus.
“New or higher taxes are justified only when the economy is booming. Tax burdens on the middle class and poor is actually taxing distress. Governments should give money to the people in times of distress, not squeeze and take money from the people,” he tweeted.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Delhi government raised VAT on petrol to 30% from 27% and nearly doubled to 30% from 16.75% on diesel to generate revenue which has been affected by the coronavirus-forced lockdown. While petrol prices were hiked by Rs 1.67 a litre to Rs 71.26, diesel prices were hiked by a steep Rs 7.10 per litre to Rs 69.59.