Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi demands a rollback of the fuel price hike as the party holds nationwide protests against the government over the rising petrol and diesel prices.
As a part of the party’s ‘speak up’ campaign, Sonia Gandhi in a video appeal asked the government to cut taxes and lower the burden on the consumers during the time of the coronavirus when people are already suffering economically.
“I along with the Congress workers and citizens demand that the government should take back the hike in prices of diesel and petrol in these tough times,” said Sonia Gandhi.
She alleged that the government was “insensitive” towards the people’s problems as it increased the prices 22 times in three months.
“The government has earned extra Rs 18 lakh crore since 2014 and the crude oil prices have decreased worldwide,” said Sonia Gandhi.
She said that in the national capital and other metros, the cost of petrol and diesel has crossed Rs 80 a litre.
The Congress workers used bullock carts, cycles and other means to demonstrate against the government. The protests will be held for five days
K. C.Venugopal, Congress General Secretary, said, “Today as a symbol of protest against the unjustifiable hikes in fuel prices, I rode my bicycle to Parliament as part of the nationwide movement started by Congress Party.”
Since the daily price revision resumed on June 7, petrol price has increased by Rs 9.12 and diesel rose by Rs 11.01 in the national capital. In other cities also, the magnitude of the increase was similar.
Petrol prices in the other metros of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata were at Rs 87.14, Rs 83.59 and Rs 82.05 per litre respectively.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also asked the government to stop profiteering from the motor fuel and roll back the recent hikes.
In a video, released here on Monday, Rahul Gandhi said, “The effect of a rise in diesel and petrol prices is twofold. One that you pay directly, and the other due to rise in prices of consumer products, including essential items.”
On one hand the government had written off loans of big people, on the other it was trying to profit from fuel prices, putting extra burden on the poor and the farmer, he said.
The country was reeling under an economic tsunami due to the coronavirus pandemic and everyone, including the rich and the poor, had been affected, he said and added, he had urged the government to implement NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) to help the poor, but it didn’t listen.
He urged people to join the campaign against it.
The former Congress party chief took to Twitter to show his resentment and stated, “Come and join #SpeakUpAgainstFuelHike campaign.” This came after the state-run oil marketing companies raised the prices of petrol and diesel on Monday, a day after there was no hike in rates that were increasing continuously for three weeks.
Rahul Gandhi also shared a video wherein a person could be heard saying that the government is “rubbing salt on the wounds of people” by increasing the prices at a time when people are either unemployed or not receiving salaries.
“Amid coronavirus pandemic and tensions with China, the Centre has left the common man to fend for themselves. It is looting the country by increasing the price of petrol and diesel from the past 21 days. The poor and middle class people are helpless,” the video narrated.
The video, shared by Rahul Gandhi, went on to urge the people to raise their voice against the hike, so that it lands on the “deaf ears of the government”. The narrator asked countrymen to share the video of disgruntled people with the #SpeakUpAgainstFuelHike hashtag on their social media handle from 10 a.m. onwards on Monday.
At the outset, the Congress party has also decided to launch a five-day protest, starting June 30, against fuel price hike in each block of the country. The party would also hold protests, between 11 a.m. and 12 noon on Monday in front of the Central government offices against the fuel price hike, said senior Congress leader K.C. Venugopal on Sunday.
The Congress attacked the central government over the daily increases in the prices of petrol and diesel for over three weeks, saying that the government was “fleecing” the people in this manner.
The opposition party also said that people from different sections of society and those rendered jobless were struggling to survive the economic ruin unleashed by the anti-people policies of the Modi government.
“The BJP-led government is fleecing people by not just increasing fuel prices but also refusing to share with the people the benefits of lower crude oil prices globally, so as to reduce their burden,” Congress spokesperson Khushbu Sundar said at a press conference here.
The Congress leader said that “repeated and unjust increases” in fuel prices as also the central excise duty on petrol and diesel had inflicted “insurmountable pain and suffering” on the people of India.
The Congress said that in May 2014 (when BJP assumed power), excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.20 per litre and on diesel Rs 3.46 per litre. “In the last six years, the Modi has increased the excise duty on petrol by an additional Rs 23.78 per litre and on diesel by an additional Rs 28.37 per litre. It is a shocking 820 per cent hike in excise duty on diesel and 258 per cent increase in excise duty on petrol,” Sundar said.
Meanwhile, the Congress supporters protested against the fuel prices hike across the country, and use various means of demonstration.
Congress workers hit the streets of Patna to protest against the rising prices of petrol and diesel. The protesters raised slogans against the Narendra Modi government at the Centre during the agitation.
Some of the protesters rode bicycles, bullock carts and horse carts to protest against the rising fuel prices.
Congress leaders and workers peddled cycle from Boring Road to Dak Bungalow in Patna to stage the protest.
The demonstration was led by Congress state president Madan Mohan Jha. The protesters targeted both the central and state governments for the fuel price hike and rising inflation.
Jha said, prices of petrol and diesel have become equal today. The central and the state government are against the poor people of India.
Former Youth Congress president Lallan Kumar said, those who are in the government today used to protest on these issues when UPA was in power but today they are silent on the prices of petrol and diesel.
He asked the state government to reduce the VAT on the fuel to give some relief to the people.
Fuel prices rose again on Monday after a day’s gap with oil marketing companies increasing the pump price of petrol by 5 paise and diesel by 13 paisa per litre.
After Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi demanded a rollback of fuel price hike and Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Centre is “profiteering”, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan hit back at the Congress, saying the collected money was used for welfare measures instead of personal benefit as allegedly prevalent during the Congress era.
Pradhan said, “I once again reiterate to Madam Sonia Gandhi ji that Modi ji has transferred more than Rs 65,000 crore to 42 crore people in the last 3 months.”
Making a strong allegation against the Congress, the Petroleum Minister remarked, “Unlike Congress’ legacy of transferring money into the accounts of middlemen, ‘National Daamad’, ‘The Family’ and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Modi ji’s DBT is about putting money in the hands of the poor, farmers, migrant workforce and women.”
He also reiterated what BJP President JP Nadda has been saying in many of his virtual rallies, asking what explains Congress-ruled states also hiking tax on fuel if Congress is against the idea.
The minister’s counter comes after Sonia and Rahul upped the ante over the issue of fuel price hike. (IANS)