New Delhi, June 30:
The Congress on Monday launched a countrywide agitation against the government for raising prices of petroleum products 22 times in the past 23 days, with party chief Sonia Gandhi accusing it of setting “a new example of extortion”.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan hit back at her, saying the tax revenue earned from petrol and diesel is being used to fund welfare programs for the poor and not to benefit any “son-in-law or Rajiv Gandhi Foundation”.
The Congress retorted, with its spokesperson Khushboo Sundar saying, “It is not the Congress party which is complaining, it is the farmers, who are complaining. Is the BJP Government blind or dumb and deaf that they can’t hear or they don’t want to react,” Khushboo told a virtual press conference.
It is a selective amnesia of the Ministry of Petroleum when the farmers are complaining about it… they (the BJP) have been giving ‘jumlas’ (empty promises) to the people and this is yet another attempt to give them ‘jumla’,” she said.
Pradhan earlier said Gandhi seems to have forgotten that states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, where the Congress is in power on its own or with allies, have also hiked VAT on petrol and diesel and burdened people. Seeking an immediate rollback of the hikes, Rahul Gandhi said the decision to raise fuel prices was the “most ill-advised” at the time of economic hardship being faced by the people due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked the government to stop “profiteering”.
Scores of Congress leaders and workers staged demonstrations and took out marches in state capitals and district headquarters across the country and submitted memorandums, addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, to local authorities demanding immediate rollback of the hikes to ease people’s burden in this “time of crisis”.
Congress leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, put out video messages on social media as part of the party’s “SpeakUpAgainstFuelHike” campaign.