Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday, June 29, took a swipe at Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her criticism of the fuel price hike. He reminded Gandhi that Congress-led governments in Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Puducherry had also imposed a tax on fuel. Moreover, he alleged that Gandhi diverted the taxpayers' money to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. According to him, the Modi government spent the money earned through the increased fuel prices on the poor, needy and the middle-class. Additionally, Pradhan predicted that the fuel prices in India would stabilise.
Dharmendra Pradhan remarked, "Sonia Gandhi has recently given a statement in which she said that the Centre is filling the coffers. Gandhi is probably forgetting that Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and even Puducherry have also put a burden on the public by increasing Rs.5 as tax." He added, "Modiji does DBT in the bank account of the poor but you sent it to your son-in-law's account in Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Your culture is to loot the treasure, Modiji's plan is to spend it on the poor, needy and middle-class. We do not have to hide anything, we spent the money cautiously in the times of the Corona crisis. It is due to this that India's handling of corona crisis is being appreciated."
Earlier in the day, Sonia Gandhi demanded an immediate rollback of the fuel price hike in various parts of the country. Mentioning that the Modi government had increased the prices of petrol and diesel 22 times since the imposition of lockdown, Gandhi contended that the people were facing hardships due to this. She also lamented that the Centre was not passing on the benefits of the falling crude oil prices in the international market.
Sonia Gandhi said, “The novel coronavirus pandemic on one hand and the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel have made the lives of the people very difficult. Today, the prices of petrol and diesel in Delhi and some other cities has crossed Rs.80 per litre. Since the imposition of the lockdown on March 25, the Modi government increased the prices of petrol and diesel 22 times.”
The Congress president elaborated, “In the last three months, the Modi government has ensured the collection of revenue worth lakhs and crores for the year by increasing the excise duty. This is happening at a juncture when the price of crude oil in the international market is continuously reducing. Instead of passing on the benefits of the reducing crude oil prices in the international market to the consumers, the Modi government after coming to power in 2014 increased the excise duty on petrol and diesel 12 times. In this manner, the Centre earned an additional revenue of Rs.18 lakh crore.”