New Delhi, February 21 (PTI) Accusing the government of “taking advantage” of “the misery of the people”, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday about the “skyrocketing” fuel prices , urging him to follow Raj Dharma and reduce prices by partially reducing excise duties.
In a three-page letter to Modi, she said the truth is that while the GDP “spikes”, the prices of gasoline, diesel and gasoline continue to rise unchecked.
Gandhi also said that governments are elected to lighten the burden on people and, at the very least, not to work directly against their interests.
“I am writing to convey the anguish and deep distress of every citizen in the face of soaring fuel and gas prices. On the one hand, India is witnessing a systematic erosion of jobs, wages and household income. The middle class and those on the margins of our society are struggling. These challenges have been compounded by soaring inflation and unprecedented increases in the prices of nearly all household items and essential commodities, “he said. declared the head of Congress.
“Sadly, in these difficult times, the government has chosen to take advantage of the misery and suffering of the people,” Gandhi said.
On Saturday, gasoline prices hit an all-time high of Rs 97 per liter in Mumbai, while the price of diesel broke through Rs 88. It was the 12th consecutive day of rising prices and the biggest daily increase since oil companies started revising their tariffs daily in 2017.
The increase has pushed the price of gasoline to Rs 90.58 per liter in Delhi and to Rs 97 in Mumbai.
Stressing that fuel prices are at “historic and unsustainable” levels, Gandhi said gasoline had crossed the 100 rupees per liter mark in many parts of the country and that the soaring diesel price had added to the woes. crescents of millions of farmers.
“What puzzles most citizens is that these prices have increased despite moderate international crude oil prices. To put it in context, the price of crude oil is almost half of what it was during the government mandate of the UPA. Therefore, your government act of raising prices (continuously for 12 days until February 20) is little less than an act of brazen profit, ”a she declared.
Equally distressing is that, despite having been in power for almost seven years now, the government continues to blame previous regimes for its own economic mismanagement, she said in her letter. to Modi.
To set the record straight, domestic crude oil production fell to its lowest level in 18 years in 2020, Gandhi said.
“I do not understand how a government can justify such thoughtless and callous measures directly to the detriment of our people. Your government has increased the excise duties on diesel by 820 percent and on gasoline by 258 percent and has collected over Rs 21 lakh. crore over the past six and a half years, ”she said.
This “unaccounted for” windfall has not yet been passed on to the people for whose benefit it was ostensibly perceived, the congressman said.
Gandhi said it was cruel of the government to refuse to cut fuel prices even when global crude oil slumped to $ 20 a barrel last year.
The whole principle of deregulation and dynamic pricing is based on the premise that reductions in crude oil prices will proportionately benefit end consumers, she said.
“The fact that your government does not do this implies a deliberate and conscious decision to deny the common man his rightful due,” she said.
Instead, ironically, the government has been “overzealous” in levying excessive excise taxes on gasoline and diesel – 33 rupees for every liter of gasoline and 32 rupees for every liter of diesel, which is higher than the base price of these fuels, she said
“This is nothing less than extortion to cover up economic mismanagement. As the main opposition party, I urge you to follow Raj Dharma and reduce fuel prices by partially reducing excise taxes “she said.
Gandhi said the astronomical rise in domestic unsubsidized LPG gas cylinder to Rs 769 in Delhi (and over Rs 800 in many states like Uttar Pradesh) is even more cruel and has had an impact on all households .
Can there be a justification for the government to increase the price of a bottle to Rs 175 in two and a half months since December 2020, she asked.
“I urge you to roll back these increases and deliver them to our middle and working class, our farmers and our poor and fellow citizens. They are the ones who are fighting an unprecedented economic downturn, widespread unemployment, wage cuts and job losses, high prices and erosion of incomes, ”she said.
“I hope you will agree that it is time for your government to focus on solutions instead of looking for excuses. India deserves better,” Gandhi said.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday that the Center and state governments will need to jointly develop a mechanism to bring retail gasoline and diesel prices down to reasonable levels. PTI ASK ANB ANB
Warning :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI