'Govts elected to ease burden of people': Sonia Gandhi to PM on fuel price hike
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over rising prices of petrol and diesel, accusing the central government of "profiteering off people's misery and suffering".
In the three-page letter, Gandhi lashed out at the central government saying it has been "unreasonably over-zealous in levying excessive excise duty on petrol and diesel".
"On one hand, India is witnessing systematic erosion of jobs, wages and household income. The middle class and those at the margins of our society are struggling. These challenges have been compounded by run away inflation and an unprecedented rise in price of almost all household items and essential commodities. Sadly, in these distressing times, the government has chosen to profiteer off people’s misery & suffering," Gandhi said in the letter.
"What baffles most citizens, is that these prices have been increased despite moderate prices of International crude oil. To put it in context, the crude oil price is nearly half of what it was during the UPA government's tenure. Therefore, your government's act of raising prices (continuously for 12 days till February 20th) is little less than a brazen act of profiteering," she further said.
Watch: Sitharaman on hike in prices of petrol and diesel
The Congress president also said that the Centre has increased excise duty on diesel by 820 per cent and on petrol by 258 per cent and collected upwards of ₹21 lakh crore in the last six and a half years.
The deregulation of fuel prices, said Gandhi, was meant to benefit the common man. "The fact that your government fails to do so implies a deliberate and conscious decision to deny the common man his legitimate due."
"The astronomical rise in domestic non-subsidised LPG gas cylinder to ₹769 in Delhi (and over ₹800 in many states like Uttar Pradesh) is even more cruel and has impacted every household. Can there be any justification for the Government increasing the price of a cylinder by ₹175 in two and a half months since December 2020?" Gandhi said in the letter.
The senior politician also said that governments are elected "to ease the burden of our people and at the very least, not work directly contrary to their interests".
The prices of petrol and diesel have seen relentless hike in the last few weeks. At some places, petrol has even crossed the ₹100-mark.
Gandhi's letter further intensifies the Congress' protest against rising fuel prices. The party took out marches and observed bandh at several places on Saturday to attack the Centre.
In Rajasthan, Congress leaders were seen riding on tractors, camels and elephants besides participating in foot marches and raising slogans against PM Modi.
In the national capital, activists of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) staged a protest at Shastri Bhawan and demanded the resignation of Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Meanwhile, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman called the the price hike a "vexatious issue" and said that the Centre and state governments will have to together work out a mechanism to bring retail rates to reasonable levels.