Speaking to journalists in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Manoj Tiwari said that free vaccination is why inflation has been on the rise in the country.

“We are going through an exceptional crisis (Covid-19),” Tiwari said. “The government is paying Rs 550 for each vaccine. We have to make required arrangements in order to continue free vaccination.”

The MP also said the government needs to find the money for this, which may be reflected in rising fuel prices. “But mobile phones have become cheaper,” he said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced an outlay of Rs 35,000 crore for India’s coronavirus vaccination programme during the Annual Budget presentation in February.

According to reports, the Modi government has collected over Rs 3.34 lakh crore from excise duty on petrol and diesel in the financial year 2020-21, much higher than the government’s budget allocated for vaccination.

Reports have also highlighted that taxes, and not free vaccination, have been the main cause behind the rise of fuel prices in India.

Other BJP leaders have come up with varying theories to justify rising fuel prices. Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri in August claimed that the money collected from the excise duty is used to finance various welfare schemes.

Puri and Nirmala Sitharaman had also blamed the UPA government for deregulating the prices of petrol and diesel in 2010, saying that the measure impacted the local market when international rates of fuel changed.

Karnataka MLA and BJP leader Aravind Bellad had claimed that the Taliban crisis is responsible for the drop in crude oil supply, resulting in the rise in fuel prices. Afghanistan does not feature on the list of countries that export crude oil to India.

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