‘Lies, deflection, step-motherly treatment’: Oppn-ruled states respond after PM Modi flags high fuel prices


In his first statement on rising fuel prices in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took aim at Opposition-ruled states during a meeting on Wednesday afternoon and asked them to reduce taxes.

PM Modi said that states like Karnataka and Gujarat reduced Value Added Tax on fuel and passed on the benefits to people, despite the move hurting their treasuries. He added, “However, states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala and Jharkhand did not reduce tax on fuel, and should do it now.”

“It has become imperative to increase the coordination between the Centre and the states and uphold the values of cooperative federalism,” PM Modi said.

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The Opposition-ruled state governments have not taken very kindly to PM Modi’s remarks during the Covid-19 review meet on Wednesday. They have accused him of lying to ‘cover his failures’, treating non-BJP states with a ‘step-mother attitude’ and attempting to deflect criticism targeted at the central government.

Here is how different state governments have responded:

TELANGANA

KT Rama Rao, Telangana minister and working president of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, took to Twitter to allege that fuel prices had shot up because of the central government.

He wrote, “Name-calling states for not reducing VAT even though we never increased it – is this the co-operative federalism you’re talking about Narendra Modi ji? Telangana hasn’t increased VAT on fuel since 2014 and rounded off only once.”

He added, “We don’t get 41 per cent of our rightful share because of the cess imposed by your government. In the form of cess, you are looting 11.4 per cent from the state and we are getting only 29.6 per cent for FY23. Please scrap cess so we can give petrol at Rs 70 and diesel at Rs 60 all over India. One Nation – One Price?”

WEST BENGAL

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has said that PM Modi’s appeal to Opposition states to reduce fuel tax has a ‘political agenda’. Further, she asked the Centre not to ‘burden’ state governments.

She said, “I ask you, Modi ji, not to talk about these things in a Covid meeting. He [Modi] is telling us to decrease the tax and he will loot the tax. The PM should not speak like this, he cannot burden states like this. He said states should reduce tax but he hiked the price! This is a one-sided remark which is totally misleading.”

She said that the West Bengal government had been giving a subsidy of Re 1 on fuel for three years and lost Rs 1,500 crore as a result, but this was not mentioned by PM Modi.

“We said share fuel revenue 50-50. But they [Centre] did not agree. They take away 75 per cent. The Centre has earned lakhs of crores on fuel but nothing is shared with the states. The Centre owed Rs 97,000 crore to Bengal – give me that money and we’ll give subsidies. It is not true that we don’t want to provide relief to the common man but Centre is imposing a huge burden on us,” she said.

Further, Mamata Banerjee alleged that the Centre favoured BJP-ruled states and gave ‘step-mother’ treatment to others. She said, “Why should Opposition-ruled states face discrimination and step-mother attitude? This is also one type of extortion. Don’t bulldoze democracy and federal structure. You [Modi] gave all the money to BJP-ruled states and not Opposition-ruled ones.”

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh added, “To cover his failures, he [Modi] has lied and asked states to cut VAT.”

TAMIL NADU

A Saravanan, spokesperson of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu, said that fuel prices are sky-high due to the Union government’s cess.

He said, “Most important aspect is cess doesn’t devolve to the state government. We make a counter-proposal to the prime minister. Please don’t collect cess and make it VAT – at least the price that you take will devolve to the state governments.

“Yet another aspect is the DMK has not raised these prices. We had reduced petrol prices by Rs 3. Also, the VAT prices were set by AIADMK. The PM instead of giving gyan should give VAT to the state. There is no accountability on cess. The Union government has earned Rs 26 lakh crore in last eight years – where has all this gone? The PM is trying to deflect the criticism against him,” he added.

MAHARASHTRA

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Wednesday that the state government cannot be held responsible for the spike in fuel prices.

He said, “Today, in the price of one litre of diesel in Mumbai, Rs 24.38 is for the Centre and Rs 22.37 is for the state. In petrol price, 31.58 paise is central tax and 32.55 paise state tax. Therefore, it is not a fact that petrol and diesel have become more expensive due to the state.”

Additionally, Uddhav Thackeray said on Wednesday that his government had already given citizens tax relief on natural gas. READ FULL REPORT

(With inputs from Akshaya Nath, Ashish Pandey, Anupam Mishra, Suryagni Roy, Indrajit, Ritvick Bhalekar)

Read the full article at: indiatoday.in


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