New Delhi: Amid the rising fuel prices across the country, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday (February 21, 2021) wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that they are at a historic and unsustainable high.
In a three-page long letter, Sonia Gandhi said, "I write to you to convey every citizen's anguish and deep distress regarding the spiralling fuel and gas prices. On one hand, India is witnessing systematic erosion of jobs, wages and household income. The middle class and those at the margins of our society are struggling. These challenges have been compounded by runaway inflation and an unprecedented rise in the price of almost all household items and essential commodities."
The Congress chief added, "Sadly, in these distressing times, the government has chosen to profiteer off people's misery and suffering."
"I fail to understand how any government can justify such thoughtless and insensitive measures directly at the cost of our people."
- Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi on rising fuel prices. pic.twitter.com/qqBV1Lj0RM
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 21, 2021
This is to be noted that the petrol price had touched an all-time high of Rs 97 per litre in Mumbai on Saturday while diesel rate crossed Rs 88-mark. In the national capital, petrol was sold at Rs 90.58 a litre.
This was reportedly the 12th straight day of price hike and the largest daily increase since oil companies started to revise rates on a daily basis in 2017.
Writing on the issue, Gandhi said that petrol has breached the Rs 100 per litre mark in many parts of the country and the surging price of diesel has added to the 'escalating woes of millions of farmers'.
She said, "What baffles most citizens, is that these prices have been increased despite moderate prices of international crude oil. To put it in context, the crude oil price is nearly half of what it was during the UPA government's tenure. Therefore, your government's act of raising prices (continuously for 12 days till February 20th) is little less than a brazen act of profiteering."
"What is equally distressing is that despite being in power for almost seven years now, the government continues to blame previous regimes for its own economic mismanagement," Sonia Gandhi wrote to PM Narendra Modi.
"To set the record straight, domestic crude oil production has fallen to an 18-year low in 2020," Gandhi said and added that the Governments are elected to ease the burden of people and at the very least, not work directly contrary to their interests.
"I urge you to roll back these increases and pass on the benefit to our middle and salaried class, our farmers and poor and our fellow citizens.
It is they who are battling an unprecedented economic slowdown, widespread unemployment, wage reductions and job losses, high prices and erosion of income," the senior Congress leader wrote in her letter.
"I hope you will agree that it is time for your government to focus on solutions instead of looking for excuses. India deserves better," Gandhi said.
Meanwhile, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that there are two main reasons behind the fuel price rise. "International market has reduced fuel production and manufacturing countries are producing less fuel to gain more profit. This is making the consumer countries suffer," Pradhan told ANI news agency.
He added that the Centre has continuously been urging the OPEC and OPEC plus countries that it should not happen.
"We hope there will be a change," the Union Petroleum Minister expressed and stated that the second reason for rising fuel price is the COVID-19 outbreak.
We have continuously been urging the OPEC & OPEC plus countries that it should not happen. We hope there will be a change: Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan (2/4) pic.twitter.com/8FwtlaOJJD
— ANI (@ANI) February 21, 2021
"We've to do various development work. For this, Centre and State governments collect the tax. Spending on development work will generate more jobs. The Centre has increased its investment and 34% more capital spending will be done in this budget," he added.
Earlier on Saturday, speaking on the issue, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that this is a vexatious issue.
Nirmala Sitharaman said, "This is a vexatious issue in which no answer other than price cut will be able to please the public. So whatever I say, to bring reality to the fore, people will say that I am avoiding answering. I have already said that this is a serious issue."
The Union Finance Minister also said that the Centre and state governments will have to together to work out a mechanism to bring retail rates of petrol and diesel to reasonable levels.