Govt 'extorting' people with fuel price hikes: Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi: Demanding an immediate rollback of hikes in fuel prices, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday accused the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of extorting people by raising fuel prices 22 times since the lockdown. "After the March 25 lockdown, the Modi government, in the last three months, has raised the prices of petrol and diesel 22 times," the Congress chief said, adding that the price of diesel has gone up by Rs 11 per litre and that of petrol by Rs 9.12 per litre.
While participating in the Congress' "Speak Up Against Fuel Hike" Gandhi charged the government with profiteering at the expense of the people, saying its duty was to help them in times of crisis and not make profits out of their hard-earned money.
She said that since 2014, instead of giving relief of the falling international crude oil prices to the people, the Modi government has raised the excise duty 12 times, which helped it collect additional revenue of nearly Rs 18 lakh crore.
"I, along with all Congressmen and others together, demand from the Modi government to immediately roll back the increase in prices of petrol and diesel raised during this crisis due to the corona pandemic," Sonia Gandhi said in a video message.
She also demanded rollback of the rise in excise duty on petrol and diesel since March this year and give this benefit to the countrymen.
The Congress launched the countrywide campaign on Monday to press the government at the Centre to roll back fuel prices as they were hurting the common people.
Party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also joined the campaign on social media, and urged people to join them in pressing the government to reduce fuel prices.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also put out a video as part of the campaign, alleging that the government has collected Rs 1.3 lakh crore through the fuel price hikes since the lockdown.
Giving details about the rise in excise duty, Congress spokesperson Khushbu Sundar said, "When BJP assumed power in May, 2014, excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.20 per litre and on diesel it was Rs 3.46 per litre, which climbed to Rs 23.78 per litre more on petrol and Rs 28.37/litre on diesel in the last six years." It's a shocking 820 per cent hike in excise duty on diesel and 258 per cent increase in excise duty on petrol, she said.