‘Mere rhetoric won’t do’: Congress’ Adhir Chowdhury asks Bengal CM Mamata to cut state taxes on fuel
Senior Congress leader and president of the West Bengal Congress Committee (WBCC) Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday, asking her to reduce taxes levied by the state on petroleum products. Chowdhury urged Mamata Banerjee to take “real and tangible actions” to help reduce fuel prices and said that “mere rhetoric and hollow sloganeering will not do.”
The letter came amidst the already widening rift between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the state even though both parties have supported a national front against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Centre. Notably, the Congress and the TMC would also face off in the Goa state assembly elections, scheduled for early next year.
In his letter, Chowdhury stated that all Congress-ruled states have slashed taxes on petroleum products as a respite to the “common man who is reeling under serious inflation and price rise.”
According to a copy of the letter shared by news agency ANI, he said, “In view of the skyrocketing petroleum products, it has become very difficult for the common man to make both ends meet. Life has become a real struggle for them and because of this high price rise, it has become difficult to lead a decent and dignified life.”
The Congress leader also claimed that while Banerjee raised the issue of high fuel prices several times, no “concrete” steps have been taken by the state government in reducing the costs. He also wondered why the prices have not been reduced in Bengal if it was done so in other states, where his party is in power. “The residents of West Bengal have been left high and dry,” he said.
Urging the Bengal government to cut state taxes on petroleum products, Chowdhury said, “I appeal to you that you may please take concrete action on this issue and cut the State taxes so that the price of petroleum products in West Bengal comes down. This will have a multiplier effect and it will result in the overall reduction in price rise. Mere rhetoric and hollow sloganeering will not do. Please take real and tangible actions on the above matter.”
Meanwhile, the BJP too has been protesting against the fuel prices in the state. On November 8, the party’s state unit warned of intensifying its protests if the Mamata Banerjee-led government does not reduce taxes in a week.
“We are giving the state government an ultimatum of seven days... If it doesn't accept our demand, we will take out march to Nabanna to press for the same,” Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar said, news agency PTI reported.
The Centre on November 3 cut excise duty on petrol by ₹5/litre and on diesel by ₹10/litre, following which several BJP-ruled states also reduced their VAT rates.