‘Such hypocrisy’: After fuel prices, Hardeep Singh Puri now slams non-BJP states over air ticket rates
Union minister of petroleum and natural Hardeep Singh Puri earlier today hit out at Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government for not reducing taxes on petrol and diesel prices.
After lashing out at opposition-ruled states over VAT, or value added tax, on fuel prices, union minister Hardeep Singh Puri has now slammed them over air ticket prices. On Thursday the former aviation minister said Bengal, Delhi and Maharashtra had imposed 'massive' 25 per cent VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) while BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland, as well as Jammu and Kashmir, charged just 1 per cent. "Ever wondered why air ticket prices haven't come down..." his tweet asked.
Saying ATF comprises nearly 40 per cent of cost of airline operations, Puri said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ensured 'affordable air travel' for the common people of the country in line with his vision of 'hawai chappal se hawai jahaj tak (from slippers to ship)'.
"But these states create impediments. They manufacture protests against 'oil prices' but fleece people to fill their coffers," he alleged, "Such hypocrisy of opposition-ruled states."
His tweets came after he bashed the Maharashtra government for not reducing VAT on fuel prices. Puri, who is the union minister for petroleum and natural gas, said Uddhav Thackeray's government had collected over ₹79,000 crore in taxes and expected to collect ₹33,000 crore more this year. "The truth hurts, but facts speak for themselves," he declared.
Puri's statements come after opposition-ruled states, including Maharashtra, Bengal, Telangana, Jharkhand and Kerala, hit back at Modi after the latter called them out for not reducing taxes on petrol and diesel prices.
During a Covid-19 review meeting on Wednesday, Modi named these states, with Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and asked them to 'implement what should have been done six months ago'.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee slammed Modi, saying her government had spent ₹1,500 crore over the past three years to subsidise petrol and diesel. "Today's interaction with prime minister Narendra Modi was completely one-sided and misleading. The facts shared by him were wrong," she told reporters after the video conference with the prime minister.
Later, Thackeray's office issued a statement calliing Modi's remarks 'unfair' and said the difference between taxes levied by the Maharashtra government and the centre were negligible. It also blamed the centre for 'step-motherly treatment' to an administration run by its rivals - the Shiv Sena, the Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Telangana finance minister T Harish Rao, meanwhile, alleged it was the Centre that was 'fleecing' fuel consumers in the name of special excise, road cess and additional excise duties. Jharkhand health minister Banna Gupta also hit out, calling the Covid-19 review meeting with Modi 'political' with more emphasis on fuel prices than the pandemic.
Kerala finance minister TN Balagopal discarded Modi's appeal and blamed him for creating an impression that states were behind the price hike on petroleum items.