New Delhi

With prices of petrol and diesel climbing steeply, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday agreed that the rates were a problem, but said that since government expenses are up due to Covid relief measures, “the Centre is saving money to spend on welfare schemes”.

“I accept that fuel prices are pinching consumers, there’s no doubt about this. But over Rs35,000 crore has been been spent on Covid vaccines in a year. Rs1 lakh crore has been spent on Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana in order to provide eight months’ ration to the poor. A few thousand crores of rupees have also been transferred to farmers’ bank accounts under PM Kisan…In such dire times, we’re saving money to spend on welfare schemes,” Pradhan said, speaking to the media.

With the Centre facing constant flak from the Opposition over fuel prices, Pradhan asked Congress governments in Rajasthan and Maharashtra to cut sales tax if the party was “that concerned about the burden on the common man”. Asked about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s repeated attacks on the Modi government, Pradhan said, “Rahul Gandhi must answer why fuel prices are high in Congress-ruled states like Punjab, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. If he is so concerned about the poor, he should instruct the Maharashtra CM to reduce taxes, as fuel prices are very high in Mumbai.”

Pradhan, however, refrained from commenting on whether BJP-ruled states, like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, where petrol has crossed the Rs100-mark, would do the same.

Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on local taxes such as VAT and the freight charges levied on them. Due to this, petrol at present costs more than Rs100 per litre in seven states and Union Territories — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Ladakh. Of these states, Congress is in power in Rajasthan and is a coalition partner with Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are ruled by the BJP. Ladakh too is under central rule. Andhra Pradesh has YSR Congress in power while TRS rules in Telangana.

Rahul: GOI’s most efficient ministry of Lies & Empty Slogans

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi continued his tirade against the union government, alleging that the government’s most efficient ministry is of “Lies & Empty slogans”. Rahul Gandhi on Sunday tweeted, “Which is GOI’s most efficient ministry? The secret Ministry for Lies & Empty slogans.”

The Congress leader has been attacking the government on vaccine shortage, GST and the fuel price hike. On Friday, the Congress protested against fuel price hike across the country, when Rahul Gandhi alleged that the government is looting the country. He had said, “GDP crashing, Unemployment soaring, Fuel prices skyrocketing. In how many more ways is #BJPLootingIndia?”

Left parties seek rollback of fuel prices, announce 15-day protest

The Left parties have announced a 15-day protest from June 16 to 30, demanding a rollback of fuel price hike and controlling the prices of essential commodities.

In a joint statement signed by general secretaries of the 5 Left parties — Sitaram Yechury of the CPI (M), D Raja of the CPI, Debabrata Biswas of the All India Forward Bloc, Manoj Bhattacharya of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and Dipankar Bhattacharya of the CPI (ML) — pointed out the prices of petro products had gone up by 21 times since the recent Assembly polls’ results were announced on May 2.

“This is leading to a cascading inflationary spiral with the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rising to a 11-year high. The prices of food articles have risen by nearly 5% in April. Primary commodities saw a rise of 10.16% and manufactured products have risen by 9.01%. By the time these commodities reach the retail markets, the consumers are charged much more,” the parties said.

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