With his party sulking over the political developments in Madhya Pradesh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, on Wednesday (March 11), chose the state of the economy to train his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Tweeting a piece of advice, he called upon Modi to remain focussed on the Indian economy and thereby bring the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG to pre-2004 levels instead of bringing down elected governments.
Hey @PMOIndia , while you were busy destabilising an elected Congress Govt, you may have missed noticing the 35% crash in global oil prices. Could you please pass on the benefit to Indians by slashing #petrol prices to under 60₹ per litre? Will help boost the stalled economy.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 11, 2020
Rahul demanded that the Prime Minister work to slash the price of petrol to under ₹60 a litre in India in the backdrop of global crude oil prices having fallen drastically.
“Could you please pass on the benefit to Indians by slashing #petrol prices to under 60 per litre? Will help boost the stalled economy,” former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi Tweeted.
The Congress also demanded that petrol and diesel be brought under the GST.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Modi-Shah government must pass on the benefit of low crude oil rates and immediately reduce Petrol-Diesel-LPG prices.
“Bring back Petrol/Diesel/LPG gas to the level of November 2004 when crude was at 38.9 USD per barrel. Giving a paltry relief of ₹2.69 and ₹2.33 per litre on petrol and diesel is insignificant and like a needle in the haystack,” he said.
“Congress demands that petrol and diesel should be brought under the GST. The hike in excise duty/customs duty affected by Modi government since May 2014 on petroleum products should be withdrawn immediately until it is brought under the GST regime,” he said in a statement.
Surjewala said the Modi-Shah government must pass on the relief of record low crude oil price to the people of India against the stagflation (rising inflation & slowdown in the economy) and rising unemployment by lowering the rates of petrol, diesel and LPG in consonance with the huge fall in international crude oil prices.
The Congress leader said international crude oil prices are now the lowest in the last 15 years, down to 35-38 USD per barrel, yet petrol and diesel prices are skyrocketing. The common people, the middle class, farmers, transporters and small and medium businesses are “bearing the pain” of high petro rates, he said.
“In Dollar terms, the international crude oil prices are down to the level of 2004 November, when petrol, diesel and LPG were available at ₹37.84, ₹26.28 and ₹281.60 per cylinder respectively, which were quite cheap in comparison to the present rates.
“For the last six years, the Government and Oil Marketing Companies have been making huge windfall gains amounting to lakhs of crores per year. The BJP Govt has looted more than ₹16 lakh crore in the last five years by charging exorbitant taxes on petrol-diesel,” he said.
Surjewala alleged that the Modi-Shah government has “looted” the people by increasing excise duties and huge taxes on petroleum products and did not bring this under GST despite the consistent demand of Congress Party.
The “ill-directed anti-people policies” of the BJP govt are responsible for the high prices of petrol, diesel and LPG despite crude oil consistently remaining down to less than fifty per cent for the last six years, he alleged.
The Congress leader also said the central excise duty has been hiked more than a dozen times since the BJP came to power.
“Excise duty has been increased by 218 per cent on petrol and 458 per cent on diesel by Modi Govt since May 2014 as excise duty on petrol and diesel was Rs 9.2 per litre and Rs 3.46 per litre in May 2014, which has been increased to Rs 19.98 and Rs 15.83 per litre respectively,” he said.
Surjewala said “monstrous” taxes levied by the Modi government have resulted in the skyrocketing petrol and diesel prices, which is a major cause of rising transportation costs and resultant inflation.
“The excise structure of the government is so skewed that it has led to petrol and diesel, which are used for scooter/motorcycle/var/tractor/truck becoming far more costlier than the aviation fuel. Can this government call itself a government for the people?” he asked.