Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding urgent withdrawal of fuel and LPG price hikes, saying “India deserves better”.
“Governments are elected to ease the burden of our people. I urge you to roll back these increases in fuel prices and pass on the benefit to our middle and salaried class, farmers and poor. I hope you will agree that it is time for your government to focus on solutions instead of looking for excuses. India deserves better,” she said in her letter today.
Accusing the government of profiteering from people’s misery, the Congress chief said the middle class and those at the margins were struggling, while “the government has chosen to profiteer off people’s misery”.
She said fuel prices were at an historic and unsustainable high, petrol had breached the Rs 100/litre mark in many parts and surging diesel prices had hit the farmers.
“What baffles most citizens is that these prices have been increased despite moderate prices of international crude oil. Crude oil price is nearly half of what it was during the UPA government’s tenure. Therefore, your government’s act of raising prices (continuously for 12 days till February 20) is little less than a brazen act of profiteering,” she alleged.
The Congress chief said the BJP government had increased excise duty on diesel by 820 per cent and on petrol by 258 per cent over and collected upwards of Rs 21 lakh crore in the past six and a half years.
“This unaccounted-for windfall is yet to be passed to the people for whose benefit it was ostensibly collected. The whole principle of deregulation and dynamic pricing was predicated on the principle that reductions in crude oil prices will proportionately benefit the end consumers,” she added.
“Instead, your government has been unreasonably overzealous in levying excessive excise duty on petrol and diesel. This is nothing short of extortion to cover up economic mismanagement. As the principal party in opposition, I urge upon you to follow ‘Raj dharma’ and reduce fuel prices by partially rolling back excise duty,” Gandhi demanded.