Kolkata: Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday blamed lack of relief in rising petrol prices on states, saying they didn’t want the fuel to be brought under Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
Speaking to reporters in Bhabanipur while campaigning for BJP’s bypoll candidate Priyanka Tibrewal, Puri said petrol prices in West Bengal crossed the century-mark when the Mamata Banerjee government raised prices by Rs 3.51 in July this year.
“The central government is certainly concerned about the rising price of petroleum and diesel. We are hopeful that the price will go down in coming days. I would like to highlight another point which many people are not aware of - states don’t want to bring fuel under GST,” Puri said.
“The excise duty which is levied by the Centre remains unchanged despite the soaring international market. When the international price was 19 dollars/per barrel (approx), the central government imposed a levy of Rs 32 per litre. At present, the price has gone up to 75 dollars/per barrel but we didn’t increase the levy. It is still at Rs 32 per litre. But yes, we agree that the price hike is creating problems for general public and we are hopeful that the situation will improve soon,” he added.
Hitting out at Mamata Banerjee, Puri said, “We all know why Bhabanipur bypoll is happening. This is happening because Mamata Banerjee lost the Nandigram assembly seat. She usually contests from Bhabanipur but this time she turned away and contested from Nandigram. Now she comes here asking people to vote for her because she wants to remain in the Chief Minister’s seat. Do you think ward residents in Bhabanipur are fools? There is an undercurrent here and it won’t be an easy task for her.”
Puri also lashed out at Banerjee for raising the farm bills issue in a Gurudwara.
“It’s an insult because she failed to observe the sanctity of the religious place. I personally believe that the Guradwara Sahib is not the place to talk about farmers’ issues. Is she thinking that all farmers are Sikhs? Can she show me any farmers in Bhabanipur? Then why was the issue raised inside the Gurudwara. It is not the place to do politics.”
Puri also retorted to Banerjee’s ‘outsider’ jibe at him. “I was branded an ‘outsider’. Now tell me, is West Bengal not a part of India? So, how come I became an outsider?”
The Union minister expressed confidence that Priyanka Tibrewal would emerge winner in the Bhabanipur bypoll battle. “I think she will raise the right issue in the state assembly. I would like to thank the people of Bhabanipur for wholeheartedly welcoming us.”