Fuelling a duel: BJP, Congress draw swords

Fuelling a duel: BJP, Congress draw swords on petrol, diesel prices

Congress on Saturday said party-ruled states are "sensitively considering" the issue of reducing state taxes on petrol and diesel

Congress also demanded that the Centre should immediately withdraw the excise duty hike -- Rs 13 on petrol and Rs 16 on diesel -- imposed on fuel during the Covid-19 pandemic as the government itself pats on its back that the Goods and Service Tax collection has gone back to normal. Credit: Reuters Photo

Congress on Saturday said party-ruled states are "sensitively considering" the issue of reducing state taxes on petrol and diesel but sought to highlight that the latest reduction in excise duty by the Centre was insufficient.

It also demanded that the Centre should immediately withdraw the excise duty hike -- Rs 13 on petrol and Rs 16 on diesel -- imposed on fuel during the Covid-19 pandemic as the government itself pats on its back that the Goods and Service Tax collection has gone back to normal.

Citing the Global Hunger Index that showed India's ranking declining, it said the Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana through which food grains are distributed to the poorest of the poor should not be stopped in November as has been announced and should continue till March 31 next year.

Read more: Delhi BJP stages dharna near Kejriwal's residence, demands cut in VAT on petrol, diesel

Asked about whether Congress-ruled states would provide more relief on fuel prices, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the share of central excise on fuel is over 80 per cent and his party was in power in three states Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Punjab.

"For the last two years the Centre has been saying that prices of petrol and diesel have nothing to do with the government. But, when they lose bypolls and lose it decisively, suddenly the government realises that they can reduce the excise on petrol and diesel. The same central excise duty, which during UPA was Rs 9.48 on petrol and Rs 3.56 on diesel was increased to Rs 32 and Rs 31 respectively by this government. Now you reduce it by Rs 5 and 10, it is not enough," he said.

He said he recalled UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi urging states to provide more relief when the previous UPA government reduced the petrol and diesel prices but the BJP states had refused to do that.

"I don't want to compare us with them. We are sensitively considering this, taking into account the economic reality of our states, different states. If you just take one district of Rajasthan, which is Bikaner, it would be larger than some of the states. So, the economic reality of the state would be different from the economic reality of Haryana or Punjab or Delhi," he said.

"Instead of telling us what to do, please acknowledge first that you were lying to the nation, all along in the last two years when we kept demanding to reduce the excise duty on petrol and diesel. We again demand, we repeat our demand, please reduce the excise duty on petrol and diesel. The one which you had increased during the Covid period, at least reduce that or you want to wait and get defeated in the assembly elections, okay then, let’s wait," he said. 

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