Updated: July 19, 2021 9:05:40 am
FORMER CHIEF minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded on Sunday that the central government should reduce taxation on fuel to bring inflation under control and provide relief to the public at large. He said the government should find other sources of income rather than relying on this “easy avenue”, which was “backbreaking” for the average citizen.
Chavan addressed the media at Pune’s Congress Bhavan with other party leaders as part of a 10-day protest campaign against fuel price hike and inflation.
“Over the past one year, petrol prices have gone up by 23 per cent, diesel price by 28 per cent and cooking gas price by 41 per cent. The explanation given by the Centre is that prices are going up due to international issues; this is not correct. Prices are high due to high degree of taxation on fuel by the central government,” Chavan said, adding that state taxes on fuel were steady over the years, while the central government’s component had gone up.
He said the excise duty charged by the central government had increased manifold in the last seven years. “The excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.48 per litre in 2014, now it has gone up to Rs 32.90 per litre. Similarly, excise duty on diesel in 2014 was Rs 3.80 per litre, which is now at Rs 32 per litre,” said the former chief minister.
He said as a result, government oil companies had made massive profits. Indian Oil, which clocked in a profit of Rs 313 crore in 2019-20, raked in Rs 21,836 crore in 2020-2021; Bharat Petroleum’s profit went up from Rs 2,683 crore in 2019-2020 to Rs 19,041 crore in 2020-2021, and Hindustan Petroleum’s profit increased to Rs 10,664 crore in 2020-2021 from Rs 2,637 crore in 2019-2020.
He said the uncontrolled fuel hike and mismanagement of the economy had caused inflation across the spectrum. “The pandemic and prevailing economic condition has also caused loss of employment for over 12 crore people. Over 23 crore people have been pushed below the poverty line,” he said, demanding that the fuel hike was backbreaking for the average citizen and should be rolled back. “The government should use other means of increasing revenue,” Chavan added.
‘Central agencies chasing Opp leaders like dogs’
Chavan also said the Narendra Modi-led government was using central agencies to blackmail political opponents. “When I was a minister in the central government, I was in charge of CBI for a while. But what I see today is that the agencies are being made to chase opposition leaders like dogs. For instance, Eknath Khadse is being raided now and his relatives arrested because he quit the BJP and entered the NCP. When he was in the BJP, he was totally clean. This shows how these raids are politically motivated,” Chavan said.
Asked about Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s “popularity”, Chavan said, “Thackeray is a popular chief minister, he should even be made a prime minister. By doing pro-public work, you can become popular. However, in PM Modi’s case, he has done that on the basis of publicity,” he added.
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