Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh on Wednesday rode a bicycle here to protest against the fuel price hike and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using this opportunity to earn during the COVID-19 crisis. He alleged that the hike is an "opportunity in a disaster" for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As a part of a state-wide protest, Singh, along with several Congress leaders, cycled for a kilometre from Roshanpura Square to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan's residence on Link Road No. 1 in Bhopal.
Speaking to media, Singh said, "Today, when people are getting infected with COVID-19. Inflation is increasing and people are dying of hunger. The Central government has increased excise duty on petrol and diesel for the eighteenth consecutive day," Singh said.
"As Modi ji says, opportunity in disaster, for them (Centre) corona disaster is an opportunity to earn the money," he added.
While Chouhan was not present at this residence at the time, the Congress leaders presented a memorandum.
"People are already facing difficulties due to coronavirus. The Centre has increased excise duty on the 18th consecutive day. Modi says to turn the crisis into an opportunity. So, he saw an opportunity to earn and increased the price of petrol and diesel," Singh alleged.
The chief minister had cycled to the state secretariat from his residence in 2008, as part of the BJP's nationwide protest against the then UPA government over prices of petroleum products, the Congress leader said.
At that time, the price of crude oil in the international market was USD 140 per barrel and petrol price was around Rs 50 and diesel at Rs 40-42 per litre.
"Now, the crude oil price is reduced to USD 40 per barrel, but the diesel price has reached Rs 80 per litre. The petrol price in Madhya Pradesh has crossed Rs 80 per litre," he claimed.
Singh also urged Chouhan to accompany him and ride a bicycle like he had done earlier.
Demanding immediate reduction in fuel prices, state Congress chief Kamal Nath claimed that the prices of petrol and diesel in Madhya Pradesh were highest in the country.
Meanwhile, state home minister Narottam Mishra said Singh should have apologised first for making false promises of bringing down fuel prices in his party's manifesto.
"It would have been better if Digvijaya Singhji had apologised before sitting on the bicycle for lying about reducing the petrol-diesel prices by Rs 5 per litre in the Congress manifesto. This is a political drama," the BJP leader said.
The minister further alleged that the Congress (during its 15-month tenure in the state) had increased the prices of petroleum products by Rs 2 to organise the IIFA programme.
The previous Congress government had planned to hold the IIFA event in Madhya Pradesh, but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Congress on Wednesday also held similar protests in other parts of the state including Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior against the petrol-diesel price hike.
Earlier in the day, state-run oil companies raised prices of diesel for the 18th day in a row. However, no increase was witnessed in petrol prices.
Notably, oil marketing companies have been adjusting retail rates in line with costs after an 82-day break from rate revision amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These firms on June 7 restarted revising prices in line with costs.