Despite strong criticism from opposition parties, as well as alliance partner Shiv Sena, over inflation and rising fuel prices, Maharashtra BJP chief Raosaheb Danve on Wednesday said the Maharashtra government is not going to remove the “drought cess” on petrol, introduced in 2015, despite the state receiving good rainfall this year.
“One can’t predict a drought. It takes place once in three years, in some area or the other… so, the drought cess on petrol, introduced by the state government, would continue,” said Danve, while addressing a press conference in Pune. He added that it was better to be prepared for any drought-like situation.
He added, “It is obvious that opposition parties will hold agitations when petroleum prices increase. But that does not mean that there is unrest among the public against the government”.
Danve said he had held discussions with officials of the Union Petroleum Ministry, who said the prices were not merely decided by the international market, but even on the cost of transportation of products, and the taxes levied by the state government.
Responding to alliance partner Shiv Sena taking to the streets against the increasing prices, Danve said,” The Sena is an independent political party, and if they think they will benefit from such acts, they will commit them. The situation is not the same at the government level, when ministers from both parties meet in the state cabinet.”
On the farm loan waiver granted by the state government, Danve said the disbursal of the waiver amount among the eligible farmers would be completed in October. “The work is in its final stages and the state government is going to transfer the amount to banks, for disbursal among the farmers, in their accounts,” he added.
Danve also claimed that the state government’s performance has been “good as the pace of development work was much better than that of previous governments”. Stating that the best way to assess the government’s performance was through its performance in elections, the state BJP chief pointed out that the party had won several local civic body elections.
He said the BJP is working on setting up 90,000 booth committees across 288 assembly segments in the state, and has appointed party leaders for the same. The party aims to train 25 youths for each booth.
Condemning the state government’s stance, Ali Daruwalla, spokesperson of the All India Petrol Dealers’ Association, said, “… The government will resort to … burdening petrol pump owners and the common man to fund the Rs 46,000 crore loan waiver given to farmers in Maharashtra.”
Daruwalla said they had urged the government to take measures to end the “unfair collection of double taxation on fuels”, but their concerns have been ignored.
“The central government levies a massive 46 per cent excise on petrol… in addition, the state governments forces consumers to bear a massive 25 per cent tax burden, in the name of VAT,” he said.