PM’s remarks on fuel prices ignite another Centre-Maha war of words

Mumbai: Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) hit out at the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he on Wednesday pointed fingers at the state government for pushing up petrol-diesel prices.

Leading the attack from the front, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray reiterated that despite being the highest contributor to the national exchequer, Maharashtra has been given step-motherly treatment by the Centre.

“While Maharashtra gets only 5.5 per cent of Central taxes, it contributes as high as 38.3 per cent in direct taxes, 15 per cent of GST which is the highest in the country. If direct taxes and GST are combined, Maharashtra is a leading state in giving taxes. Yet, even today, we are waiting to get our Rs 26,500 GST share,” Thackeray said.

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State Congress President Nana Patole’s poser was what happened to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s promise in 2014 to reduce petrol price to Rs 40, but now, it has more than tripled.

“Since the time of Atal Behari Vajpayee, a Re 1/litre Road Development Cess was being collected, it went upto Rs 2 during the tenure of UPA PM Manmohan Singh, and under the present Modi government, it stands at Rs 18/litre, besides a Rs 4 agro cess,” he said.

He pointed out that the Centre always hikes cess instead of excise, but when the rates are reduced, only excise is slashed, as was done during the recent elections in five states – since all the states are entitled to a certain revenue share – thus depriving the states of their due share.

Nationalist Congress Party Minister Chhagan Bhujbal slammed the Centre for repeatedly raising fuel prices and then blaming the states while not reimbursing the GST dues of the states.

Thackeray also said that the MVA has repeatedly asked the Centre to expand the narrow definitions of the NDRF criteria to help victims of disasters, though the state has contributed more than the stipulated amount.

“During the Taukte Cyclone (May 2021), the Centre helped Gujarat more than Maharashtra. We not only announced but also implemented the farm loans waivers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we helped the unorganised and weaker sections of society. While speaking about cooperative federalism, it is expected that the Center treats all states in a fair manner,” he said.

He added that in Mumbai, for every litre of diesel, there is Centre’s VAT of Rs 24.38, while the state’s VAT is Rs 22.37, in petrol, Rs 31.58 is Centre’s tax and state’s tax is Rs 32.55, and hence, it was wrong to blame the states for the spiralling petrol-diesel prices.

Thackeray also pointed out how the state recently reduced VAT on CNG from 13.5 to 3 per cent for the customers, benefitting domestic consumer, transport sectors and encouraging the use of the green fuel.

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