The Congress on Saturday criticised the government for hiking oil prices in these difficult times and demanded its immediate rollback and passing of the benefits to the consumer. Repeated and "unjust" increase in prices as also the central excise duty on petrol and diesel has inflicted insurmountable pain and suffering on the people of India, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
"The Congress demands complete rollback of the excise duty hike effected by the Modi government on petrol and diesel during the corona period. "The Congress urges upon the government to immediately roll back the petrol-diesel prices and excise duty hike post March 5, 2020 and pass on this benefit to the people of India in these difficult times," Surjewala said in a statement.
He also demanded that the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices be passed on to people and the rates of petrol, diesel and LPG gas reduced accordingly. The Congress leader also reiterated the party's demand for bringing petrol and diesel under the purview of the GST.
Surjewala said the entire nation is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and people were expecting some kind of relief and economic assistance in these challenging times. The BJP government is "fleecing" people by not just raising fuel rates on daily basis but also refusing to share benefits of lower crude prices with the people, he claimed. "The cruel government is raising petrol and diesel rates on a daily basis, while charging very high excise duty on petrol and diesel. The government has increased petrol and diesel prices by 14 and 13 times respectively in the last 16 days since November 19, 2020," he said.
The Congress general secretary said the consistent rise in prices of petrol and diesel by the Modi government is adding to people's woes. He said when the BJP assumed power in May 2014, excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.20 per litre and on diesel, it was Rs 3.46 per litre, but in the last six years, the BJP government at the Centre has increased the excise duty on petrol by an additional Rs 23.78 per litre and on diesel, by an additional Rs 28.37 per litre.
This is a "shocking 820 per cent hike" in excise duty on diesel and "258 per cent increase" in excise duty on petrol, Surjewala said. "The Modi government has earned Rs 19,00,000 crore in the last 6.5 years by increasing excise duty on petrol and diesel alone. Since the lockdown eight months ago, the extent of extortion and profiteering by repeated increases in prices and excise duty on petrol and diesel has surpassed all forms of exploitation," he claimed.
The price of petrol on Saturday breached the Rs 83 per litre-mark in Delhi for the first time in more than two years after a rally in international oil prices forced a 13th increase in rates in the last fortnight. Petrol price on Saturday was raised by 27 paise per litre and diesel by 25 paise, according to a price notification of oil marketing companies.
Petrol price in Delhi rose to Rs 83.13 per litre from Rs 82.86. Diesel rates went up from Rs 73.07 to Rs 73.32 per litre. This is the highest rate for petrol and diesel since September 2018 and followed the 13th increase in rates since November 20, when oil companies resumed daily price revision after nearly a two-month hiatus.