Updated: February 22, 2021 2:45:00 am
Flagging “historic and unsustainable” fuel price levels, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to follow “Raj Dharma” by partially rolling back the excise duty on petrol and diesel. She said the Centre had “chosen to profiteer off people’s misery and suffering”.
Gandhi’s missive to the Prime Minister came as the price of petrol Saturday touched an all-time high of Rs 97 per litre in Mumbai even as diesel crossed the Rs 88-mark. This was the 12th straight day of price hike and the largest daily increase since oil firms began revising rates on an everyday basis in 2017.
The increase in fuel prices, she said, was hurting farmers, the poor and the middle and salaried class, who are battling an “unprecedented economic slowdown, widespread unemployment, wage reductions and job losses, high prices and erosion of income”.
Questioning the hike in fuel prices, given that crude oil is moderately priced internationally, Gandhi wrote: “.. it was cruel on the Government’s part to refuse to reduce fuel prices even when global crude oil had crashed to $20/barrel last year.”
The NDA government, over the last six-and-a half-years had increased excise duty on diesel by 820% and on petrol by 258%, Gandhi said. The collection from excise alone amounted to Rs 21 lakh crore, which she alleged “is yet to be passed to the people”.
The Congress chief said the crude oil price is nearly half of what it was during Congress-led government’s tenure at the Centre.
“To set the record straight, domestic crude oil production has fallen to an 18-year low in the year 2020,” she wrote.
“Instead, ironically, your Government has been unreasonably over-zealous in levying excessive excise duty on Petrol and Diesel, i.e., Rs 33 on every litre of Petrol and Rs 32 on every litre of Diesel, which is higher than the base price of these fuels. 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 said. —With PTI inputs.
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