Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday demanded a rollback of the rise in fuel prices, saying the central government’s decision to introduce successive increases over the past week amidst a pandemic is “wholly insensitive” and “ill-advised”.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi said that given that the international price of crude oil has fallen by approximately 9% over the same period, the Centre is doing “nothing short of profiteering off its people”.
The prices of petrol and diesel were increased for the tenth consecutive day on Tuesday as state-owned oil companies returned to the normal practice of daily reviews following a 12-week pause due to the lockdown enforced to contain the coronavirus. While the price of petrol was revised to Rs 76.73 per litre in the national Capital from Rs 76.26 per litre on Monday, the diesel rate was increased to Rs 75.19 per litre from Rs 74.62 per litre.
“I am deeply distressed that in these exceedingly difficult times since the beginning of March, the government has taken the wholly insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than ten separate occasions,” Gandhi said. “I see no logic in why the government would even consider such a price increase at a time when the economic impact of Covid-19 is depriving millions of jobs and livelihood, devastating business bit and small, rapidly eroding the income of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop of the kharif season.”
The Congress president accused the government of earning an additional revenue of nearly Rs 2.6 lakh crore through these ill-advised rise in prices, saddling people with an another burden that is “neither justified nor appropriate”.
“I urge you to roll back these increases and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country,” she added. “If you wish for them to be ‘self-reliant’ then do not place financial fetters on their ability to move forward.”
Gandhi also urged the government to use its resources to put money directly into the hands of those in need in these times of severe hardship. “If ever there was a time to deploy these resources in the service of people, it is now,” she wrote.