As petrol prices in parts of the country cross the ₹ 100 per litre mark, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who is today overseeing a reshuffle of his cabinet – asking him to hold a ‘petrol and vaccine ki baat‘ instead of his ‘mann ki baat‘.
A furious Ms Banerjee accused the centre of pickpocketing ₹ 3.71 lakh crore from the people – as revenue from taxes imposed on the sale of petrol and diesel – and then not using that money to scale up COVID-19 vaccination efforts ahead of a potentially disastrous third wave.
She called on him to focus on health and economy, and not on cabinet reshuffles.
“When Modi government has earned ₹ 3.71 lakh crore from taxes on fuel… where is the money? He does only ‘mann ki baat‘. Why doesn’t he talk about petrol and diesel? He only sits and talks and humiliates Mamata Banerjee,” the Chief Minister told reporters in Kolkata.
“Look at the price of gas… in 14 months up by 47 per cent. What happened to Ujjwala (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana – a central scheme to distribute 50 million LPG connections to BPL, or below poverty line, families)? If we can give social schemes, why can’t you?” she asked.
“Why are such things happening? PM Narendra Modi… does he think only reshuffle will do? ‘Mann ki baat’ main ‘petrol ki baat’ kijiyee (Instead of ‘mannki baat‘, talk about petrol prices),” she suggested, adding, “I am not against you. But we have to focus on health and economy.”
Petrol prices in Delhi today hit a high of ₹ 100.21 per litre. Diesel rose to ₹ 89.53 per litre.
Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru have already seen petrol cross the ₹ 100 per litre mark. In Kolkata that mark was breached on Wednesday, and petrol now costs ₹ 100.23 per litre.
Earlier today Bengal’s Labour Minister, Becharam Manna, rode a cycle for 38 km to protest rising fuel prices. He was accompanied by Trinamool Congress workers who held placards that read: “Modi Babu, Petrol Bekabu“, which translates from Bengali to “Mr Modi, petrol is out of control”.
55 per cent of petrol’s retail price in Delhi consists of taxes – ₹ 32.90 per litre is excise duty collected by the centre and ₹ 22.80 per litre is VAT levied by the state.
Opposition leaders like Ms Banerjee have criticised the centre for high taxes, particularly at a time when lakhs have been financially affected by the pandemic and even more are jobless.
Ms Banerjee called on the Prime Minister to divert the crores collected as excise duty to scaling up COVID-19 vaccination efforts in India.
India is racing to inoculate enough of its 1.3 billion-strong population to minimise the impact of a third wave of infections. As of this morning, it is well behind the target of 8.7 million doses per day.
“Why don’t you spend money earned by taxes on fuel? What about PM CARES fund? Third wave of Covid is coming… people should be vaccinated. ₹ 36,000 crore for vaccines in union budget… why is he not giving vaccines?” she asked.
The Chief Minister also dismissed the resignation of Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan (as part of today’s cabinet reshuffle), saying it is an “internal matter” of the centre, and pointing out that it is PM and not the Health Minister, who holds Covid meetings with state governments and officials.
Ms Banerjee also criticised the centre for retaining Jagdeep Dhankhar as Bengal governor. Mr Dhankhar and she are in the midst of a feud dating back to his appointment three years ago.
News Source: NDTV News