New Delhi, February 21:
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing concerns over the rising fuel prices in the country and saying that the government has chosen to profit from “people’s misery and suffering.”
“Fuel prices are at a historic and unsustainable high. In fact, petrol has breached the ₹ 100/litre mark in many parts of the country. The surging price of diesel has added to the escalating woes of millions of farmers,” Ms Gandhi wrote in the letter, adding that these prices have been increased despite moderate prices of international crude oil.
She said the crude oil price is nearly half of what it was during Congress-led government’s tenure at the centre.
Petrol and diesel prices have been increased for 12 straight days, taking them to an all time high of ₹ 97 per litre for petrol in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and over ₹ 88 mark for diesel. The government had increased central excise duty on petrol and diesel by a record margin last year to mop up gains arising from international oil prices plunging to two decade low.
Sonia Gandhi, in her letter, said India is witnessing a systematic erosion of jobs, wages and household incomes. “The middle class and those at the margins are struggling.”
“Your government has been unreasonably over zealous in levying excessive excise duty on petrol and diesel i.e. ₹ 33 on every litre of petrol and ₹ 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,” she said.
I fail to understand how any government can justify such thoughtless and insensitive measures directly at the cost of our people,” she added.
Reduce fuel prices by partially rolling back excise duty, Ms Gandhi demanded. “Roll back fuel price increases and pass on benefit to our middle and salaried classes, farmers and the poor. It is these people who are battling an unpresented economic slowdown, widespread unemployment, wage reductions and job losses.”
“It is time for your government to focus on solutions instead of looking for excuses. India deserves better,” Ms Gandhi wrote.