Ahead of fresh round of talks with farmers, the Congress chief asks Modi govt. to withdraw farm laws.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday demanded that the Narendra Modi government charge the same rate of excise duty on petroleum products as the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance did and give relief to common people.
Excessive taxation by the Modi government has led to the highest ever price of petroleum products in the past 73 years and the government has so far collected ₹19 lakh crore in excise duty in the past six years, she alleged in a statement.
Ahead of a fresh round of talks between the Centre and the farmers’ union on Friday, Ms. Gandhi urged the Modi government to withdraw the three farm laws.
“For the first time in the history of independent India, the country stands at a crossroads today. On the one hand, the country’s ‘annadataas’ [food providers] have been holding their ground on Delhi’s border for the last 44 days in support of their legitimate demands, while the country’s autocratic, insensitive and ruthless BJP government is busy breaking the back of the poor peasant and middle class,” Ms. Gandhi said.
“In the midst of a collapsing economy because of corona, the Modi government is trying to convert the disaster into an opportunity to fill its treasury. Today the price of crude oil is $50.96 per barrel or just ₹23.43 per litre. Despite this, diesel is being sold for ₹74.38 and petrol at ₹84.20 per litre. This is the highest in the last 73 years,” she added.
The Congress president said the government was resorting to profiteering through excise duty instead of providing relief to common people. She said the repeated rise of LPG cylinder price had disturbed the household budgets.
“I demand that the excise duty on petrol and diesel be similar to the UPA regime and provide immediate relief to the people. I also urge the government to annul all the three farm laws immediately and fulfil the demands of farmers,” Ms. Gandhi said.
Earlier in the day, party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala held a press conference to share details about the UPA’s excise duty.
“When the Modi government came to power in May 2014, excise duty on petrol was ₹9.20 per litre and ₹3.46 per litre on diesel. The government has increased excise duty by ₹23.78 on every litre of petrol and ₹28.37 on every litre of diesel,” Mr. Surjewala said.
In a tweet, former party chief Rahul Gandhi alleged that since the government is “looting” people through heavy taxes, it is refusing to bring petroleum products under the ambit of goods and services tax (GST).
Mr. Surjewala also targeted the Prime Minister over his silence about the farmers’ agitation and pointed out that Mr. Modi could tweet about the rioting in United States but not reach out to the protesting farmers.
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