Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday criticised the central government for the rising prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas. At a press conference, Gandhi took a dig at the government by referring to the first quarter (April-June) quarter Gross Domestic Product growth numbers for the current financial year.
“[Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji keeps saying GDP is rising...Finance minister says GDP is showing an upward projection,” Gandhi said. “I then understood what they mean by GDP. It means gas, diesel, petrol.”
On Tuesday, government data showed that India’s GDP grew by 20.1% in the first quarter of the financial year 2020-’21. However, experts pointed out that the seemingly high number was built on a low base after an unprecedented contraction of 24.4% in the first quarter of the previous financial year.
On Wednesday, Gandhi said that the price of fuel products and cooking gas had gone up significantly since the Narendra Modi-led government came to power in 2014. The former Congress chief added that the rise in petrol and diesel rates leads to an increase in prices of all items as fuel products add to their input cost.
“When UPA [Congress-led United Progressive Alliance] left in 2014, LPG cylinder cost Rs 410...Today, it costs Rs 885 – a rise of 116%,” Gandhi said. “Petrol was Rs 71.5 per litre in 2014, today it’s Rs 101 per litre – a rise of 42%. Diesel was priced at Rs 57 per litre in 2014, it is Rs 88 per litre today.”
The Congress leader claimed that the BJP government had earned Rs 23 lakh crore from revenues on fuel products and cooking gas since it came to power. “Where did this Rs 23 lakh crore go?” Gandhi asked.
His comments came on a day when the price of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder was increased by Rs 25 in Delhi. A cylinder will now cost Rs 884.50 in the national capital. This is the second time in a month that the price of the LPG cylinders has been increased. On August 18, gas companies had increased the price of LPG cylinder by Rs 25.
Fuel prices fell by 13 paise to 15 paise across the country on Wednesday. However, petrol price remains above Rs 100 per litre in several cities.
Meanwhile, Gandhi reiterated the Congress’ criticism of the Centre’s newly-unveiled National Monetisation Pipeline.
Under the initiative launched last week, the government aims to raise Rs 6 lakh crore over a four-year period till 2025 by leasing out state-owned infrastructure in various sectors such as power, road and railways to private entities. Gandhi had earlier alleged that under the project, the central government was selling the country’s assets to Modi’s “industrialist friends”.
On similar lines, on Wednesday, the Congress leader said that the central government was “demonetising” farmers, labourers, small businessmen and government employees at the cost of “monetising four or five of the prime minister’s friends”.