New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to roll back the hike in fuel prices, saying the government’s decision is nothing short of profiteering off its people.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also asked Modi to stop “profiteering” from the misery of the poor as he attacked the BJP-led government for raising fuel prices.
“PM Modi, these tragic times dictate putting money directly in the hands of the middle class and poor. STOP profiteering from their misery,” the Congress leader wrote on Twitter, using the hashtag — “ModiStopLootingIndia” and shared the Congress chief’s letter to PM.
In her letter to the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi said increasing the prices of petrol and diesel during the coronavirus crisis is “wholly insensitive” and “ill-advised”.
Given that the international price of crude oil has fallen by approximately nine per cent over the last week, she said “The government is doing nothing short of profiteering off its people when they are down and out.”
Petrol and diesel prices were hiked for the 10th day in a row on Tuesday. While the price of petrol has gone up cumulatively by Rs 5.47 per litre, price of diesel has increased by Rs 5.8 per litre.
“I am deeply distressed that in these exceedingly difficult times since the beginning of March, the government has taken the wholly insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than ten separate occasions,” Sonia Gandhi said in her letter to Modi.
She accused the government of earning an additional revenue of nearly Rs 2.6 lakh crore through these “ill-advised” hikes in excise duty and increase in prices of petrol and diesel.
“I urge you to roll back these increases and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country.
“If you wish for them to be ‘self-reliant’ then do not place financial fetters on their ability to move forward,” the Congress president said.
Gandhi also urged the government to use its resources to put money directly into the hands of those in need in these times of severe hardship.
She said India is facing unprecedented public health, economic and social challenges during the ongoing battle against COVID-19 and its people are facing unimaginable hardships like widespread fear and insecurity.
“These price increases are saddling our people with an additional burden of this enormous magnitude that is neither justified nor appropriate,” she added.
Gandhi said, “It is the duty and responsibility of the government to alleviate suffering, not put the people to still greater hardship.”
“I see no logic in why the government would even consider such a price increase at a time when the economic impact of COVID-19 is depriving millions of jobs and livelihood, devastating business(es) big and small, rapidly eroding the income of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop for the Kharif season,” she said.
“If ever there was a time to deploy these resources in the service of the people, it is now,” she said.
Gandhi also asked the prime minister to put money in the hands of the poor and middle class during the current crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also wrote on the microblogging website that Sonia Gandhi has written to the prime minister demanding a rollback of the surging petrol-diesel prices that have broken the back of the common man in these challenging times.
The statements came on a day oil companies raised petrol and diesel prices for the 10th day in a row, with the petrol price hiked to Rs 76.73 per litre from Rs 76.26 in Delhi and the diesel rates to Rs 75.19 a litre from Rs 74.26.
The Congress has been demanding that petrol and diesel prices be brought under the ambit of GST. It has also demanded a rollback of excise duty hikes on petrol and diesel to bring down the prices.
The opposition party has said the government is earning out of the pockets of the poor by imposing high taxes on petrol and diesel, depriving the common man of the benefit of lower crude oil prices.