NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday attacked the BJP government at the Centre for raising fuel prices 22 times since the lockdown, accusing it of extorting people, and sought an immediate rollback of the hikes.
She 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.
Participating in the Congress' "Speak Up Against Fuel Hike" campaign across the country, she said on the one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc and on the other, the rise in petrol and diesel prices was making life very difficult for the people.
The Congress launched the countrywide campaign on Monday to press the central government 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.
"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.
"I also urge them to roll back the rise in excise duty on petrol and diesel since March this year and give this benefit to the countrymen. This will be a big relief in this period of economic crisis," she said.
The Congress chief said this in its own was the living proof of taking the hard-earned incomes of the people and filling the government's coffers.
"The government's duty is to support the countrymen in difficult times and not take advantage of their plight and profiteer.
"The government has set a new example of extortion from people through this unjustified increase in petrol and diesel prices. This is not only unjust but also insensitive," Gandhi said, noting that it directly hurts the country's farmers, the poor, the working class, the middle class and the small businesses.
She said the price of petrol in national capital Delhi and other big cities has crossed Rs 80 per litre.
"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.
"The Modi government has made provision for collecting lakhs of crores by raising excise duty on petrol and diesel in the last three months.
"All this is happening at a time when the international crude oil prices are continuously falling," she said.
The Congress president 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.
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.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)