All India Congress Committee chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and requested him to roll back the fuel prices.

In her letter to PM Modi, Congress president said that India has faced unprecedented public health, economic and social challenges during the ongoing battle against Covid-19.

It is deeply distressed that in a such exceedingly difficult times since the beginning of March, central government has taken the wholly insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than ten separate occasions, she added.

Central government is seeking to earn an additional revenue of nearly Rs. 2,60,000 crores by these ill-advised hikes in excise duty and increases in the diesel price. As it is, people across the board are facing unimaginable hardships what to say of widespread fear and insecurity.

Such an increase on fuel prices are saddling the countrymen with an additional burden of this enormous magnitude that is neither justified nor appropriate. It is the duty and responsibility of the government to alleviate suffering, not put the people to still greater hardship, congress president elaborated.

 She said, adding that it’s no logic in why the centre 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 big and small, rapidly eroding the income of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop for the Kharif season.

Given that the international price of crude oil has fallen by approximate 9% over the last week (coming after a collapse of crude oil prices over the last few months), the Government is doing nothing short of profiteering off its people — when they are down and out, Sonia Gandhi said.

Despite historically low oil prices over the last six years central government’s revenues have been massively enriched by the cumulative increase in excise duty on petrol and diesel on twelve different occasions (by an additional Rs 23.78 per litre on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel). Sonia Gandhi said, adding that this translates into a 258 percent increase in excise on petrol and 820 percent hike in excise duty on diesel yielding in these six years a staggering Rs. 18,00,000 crores from excise collection on petrol and diesel alone.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi requested PM Modi to roll back these increases and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country. She said, if you wish for them to be “self-reliant” then do not place financial fetters on their ability to move forward. And I am once again obliged to repeat what I have said before: please use the government’s resources to put money directly into the hands of those who need it in this time of severe hardship. 

—— Vijay Singh Thakur