Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Saturday said that the rise in petrol and diesel prices did not affect him since he was a minister. Athawale heads the Republican Party of India, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“I am not suffering from rising fuel prices as I am a minister, he said, referring to the allowances he gets,” PTI quoted the minister of state for social justice and empowerment as saying. “I may suffer if I lose my ministerial post.”

He acknowledged that others were affected by the prices. “It is understandable that people are suffering from rising fuel prices and it is the duty of the government to reduce them,” Athawale said.

He said prices of fuel can be reduced if states cut the tax on it. The Centre is seriously working on reducing the prices, he said.

He later clarified that his comments were not meant to insult anyone. “If it has hurt people’s sentiments, I express my apology,” he told ANI. “I am a common man who became a minister. I know the problems people face. I am a part of the government and I demand that the price of petrol-diesel should be brought down.”

The BJP-led government has been facing criticism for rising fuel prices and depreciating value of rupee. On Saturday, Congress leader Chidambaram sarcastically said the Centre must have found a crude oil source that will supply it for free.

Meanwhile, prices of petrol and diesel continued to rise on Sunday with a litre of petrol costing Rs 89.29 in Mumbai and Rs 81.91 in Delhi, recording an increase of 28 paise. A litre of diesel is priced at Rs 78.26 in Mumbai and Rs 73.72 in Delhi.