Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his “reluctant allies” for their commitment to fight fuel price rise in the country. The challenges posed by the rise in international price of crude oil cannot be countered with tweets or television bytes, Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post titled ‘The Oil Prices and the Hypocrisy of the Opposition’.
Attacking the Opposition for making maximum of the situation, Jaitley said, government’s critics rejoiced the political consequences of such as price rise, “which is evident from their comments,” he said. The Finance Minister was critical of media for not highlighting fuel price cuts and accused the Opposition of doing a “volte face” and dubbing the move as bad economics.
Rahul Gandhi urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring fuel under the ambit of Goods and Service Tax (GST). Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the government of defrauding the people by slashing excise duty by Rs 2.50-per-litre after increasing the same by Rs 10-per-litre.
Former Finance Minister and Congress leader tweeted “an oil revenue-dependent government has belatedly realised the unbearable burden on the people and indulged in tokenism.”
Even Gandhi, whose party “inflicted double-digit inflation during the past five years of UPA-II” gave television bytes and tweeted “advocating price reduction,” Jaitley said.
The Central government shaved Rs 2.50 off Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel on Friday and urged the states to follow suit in order to give substantial relief to the consumers. Most of the BJP-ruled states complied with Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh announcing cuts ranging from Rs 1.50 to 2.50, after which the effective price in the states came down upto Rs 5-per-litre.
States not ruled by BJP such as Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal, refused to affect a price cut, provoking sharp criticism from several BJP leaders and the Jaitley. “The States benefit from higher oil prices. The Centre’s collection remains the same. Thus, the capacity of the States to give a Rs.2.5 benefit is within their capacity,” FM said, adding that a number of non-BJP non-NDA states have refused to cut the prices.
Jaitley lamented that the price of crude oil in international markets increased due to several factors one of which was oil producing nations capping the their production leading to demand supply mismatch. Furthermore, the crises in Venezuela and Libya along with US sanctions on Iran have aggravated the problem, Jaitley added.
Jaitley accused the Opposition of mere lip-service and optics on issues by giving news bytes and releasing tweets and looking the other way when it comes to performance.