‘Have a vehicle? Can afford fuel hike then’: Union minister Alphons adds to row
Union tourism minister KJ Alphons stoked a controversy on Saturday when he justified fuel price hikes by saying that people who could afford vehicles should be paying the increased prices.
Speaking to media at the Kerala state capital, Alphons said the Union government was imposing tax to help the poor lead a dignified life.
“Who buys petrol? Somebody who has a car or bike. Certainly he’s not starving. People who can afford to pay should pay,” he said, adding that people who always criticise fuel price hike should remember it is for the benefit of the country.
The bureaucrat-turned-politician’s comment come at a time when fuel prices are at a three-year high though international crude prices have crashed, attracting criticism from opposition parties which described them as insensitive to the common man’s problems.
Congress leader and former petroleum minister Veerappa Moily called it an atrocious statement. “This is how bureaucrats, who come to politics, have no understanding of people’s problems. Many of the ministers in Modi’s government are like this.” Telangana Rashtra Samithi spokesman Bhanuprasad described Alphons’ statement as shocking. The government is still fleecing people when crude prices have come down, he said.
In his speech in Thiruvananthapuram, Alphons said the Modi government was committed to ensuring the welfare of the downtrodden by building houses for the homeless, providing electricity in all villages and building toilets in all houses. “We are imposing taxes to help the poor. All money collected is not being stolen by Union ministers,” he said adding it was the previous UPA regime that stole the money.
“Those who own vehicle require petrol also. I don’t think they have any problem in finding their food. In India at least 30% of the people are starving. The Modi government gives top priority to improve their lot. So those who are using fuel have to cough up tax also,” he said adding the tax being levied was reaching the public.
This is not the first time Alphons has courted trouble since he was made a minister. Recently, he advised foreign tourists to eat beef in their countries before coming to India.
(with agency inputs)