Stoking a controversy, Rajasthan minister Rajkumar Rinwa on Monday advised people to reduce their expenses to deal with rising fuel prices, a comment slammed by the Congress as "arrogant" and "insensitive".
On a day when the Congress and other opposition parties held a nationwide protest, 'Bharat Bandh', against the rise in fuel prices, the minister said, "People do not understand that if fuel prices are rising they should cut down their expenses. They do not understand this."
Rinwa also said people do not understand that fuel prices are rising as consumption is increasing.
"The government is making efforts to reduce the fuel prices by reducing tax. Expenditure is being made in thousands of crores on flood relief all around (the country) for which money is required," he told reporters.
Fuel prices are regulated by the world market and the government has nothing to do with it, the minister of state for the devasthan department said.
Reacting to Rinwa's statement, Congress's Rajasthan chief Sachin Pilot said, "Such remarks from a BJP leader tell you they are very arrogant and they are insensitive to the needs of people."
"When people are suffering they are making it worse by such outlandish statements," he told reporters.
The BJP government in Rajasthan had on Sunday reduced four percentage points VAT on petrol and diesel in the state. The VAT on petrol was reduced from 30 to 26 per cent and from 22 to 18 per cent on diesel.
To lodge a protest on rising fuel prices, the Congress had announced to hold demonstrations and rallies in various districts, including state capital Jaipur, as part of its Bharat Bandh.
The bandh got a mixed reaction in Rajasthan where markets remained closed and Congress leaders and workers took out rallies.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has termed the bandh call by the Congress and other opposition parties a 'drama', saying she took the decision to reduce VAT on diesel and petrol to provide relief to the people.
The chief minister, while addressing a public meeting in Hanumangarh district's Bhadra town as part of her Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra, said it was in her knowledge that the increase in the prices of fuel had affected the people's budget and therefore she took the decision.