Stop befooling people, says Congress on fuel price cut

Opposition party asks the finance minister to roll back excise on petrol and diesel to level it was under UPA in May 2014

New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday accused Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of “befooling” people after she announced an excise duty cut on petrol and diesel and said people needed relief instead of ”jugglery of figures”.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the government had increased the excise duty on petrol by Rs 10 in 60 days and is now “duping” people by reducing it by Rs 9.50.

The opposition party demanded that the finance minister show courage and roll back excise on petrol and diesel to the level it was under the UPA in May 2014.

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“Dear FM … in 60 days, you increased the price of petrol by Rs 10/litre and now reduced it by Rs 9.50/litre. … U increased the price of Diesel by Rs 10/litre and now reduced it by Rs 7/litre. Stop befooling people!

“Nation doesn”t need jugglery of figures to dupe the people, Nation doesn’t need Jumlas, Nation needs rollback of excise on petrol and diesel to May 2014 levels of Rs 9.48/litre on petrol and Rs 3.56/litre on diesel. Stop deceiving, Show the courage to give relief,” Surjewala said in a series of tweets.

The Congress leader said in May 2014, excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.48/litre.

“It is still Rs 19.90 versus Rs 9.48 during the Congress,” he said.

On excise duty on diesel, he said, “It is still Rs 15.80 versus Rs 3.56 during Congress.”

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the true cut will be if the Centre decreases the cess it levies on petrol and diesel that is not shared with the states.

He said the FM’s exhortation to states to reduce taxes is meaningless.

”When she cuts Central Excise by one rupee, 41 paise of that rupee belongs to the states. It means that Centre has cut 59 paise and the states have cut 41 paise. So, dont point fingers,” the former finance minister said.

”Raise Rs 10 per litre in 2 months and cut Rs 9.50 per litre on petrol and Rs 7 per litre on diesel.This is equal to rob Peter more & pay Peter less!” Chidambaram tweeted.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claimed the Centre had to reduce the excise duty under the pressure of the Congress party’s public awareness campaign decided in the recently held Chintan Shivir.

He demanded that the central government should lower the petrol and diesel prices to the level during the UPA rule if the government wants to give relief to people in the true sense.

Due to the continuous protests by the Congress against inflation across the country and the pressure of public awareness campaign against the inflation decided in Navsankalp Shivir, Udaipur, the central government today had to decide to reduce the excise duty on petrol and diesel, Gehlot tweeted.

Congress whip in Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore also attacked the finance minister, accusing her of being “arrogant” and supporting the rich but not the middle class.

The government on Saturday cut excise duty on petrol by a record Rs 8 per litre and that on diesel by Rs 6 per litre to give relief to consumers battered by high fuel prices that have also pushed inflation to a multi-year high.

The excise duty cut will translate into a reduction of Rs 9.5 a litre on petrol and Rs 7 a litre on diesel after taking into account its impact on other levies.

Announcing the duty cut, Sitharaman also said the government will give Rs 200 per cylinder subsidy to Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries for 12 cylinders in a year to help ease some of the burden arising from cooking gas rates rising to record levels.

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