DW BUREAU / Chandigarh
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday asked its chief Rahul Gandhi to direct his party’s government in Punjab to reduce state taxes on fuel to ensure relief to the common man.
It came a day after a Congress shutdown against rising fuel prices.
Claiming that concrete action and not “political tamashas” will help the people, the Shiromani Akali Dal leader said Punjab was collecting a tax of Rs 23 and Rs 11 per litre respectively on petrol and diesel.
“This, along with 42 per cent central devolution of excise, was resulting in an annual tax collection of Rs 5,800 crore from petroleum products in Punjab.”
He said that Rahul Gandhi should direct Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to follow the examples of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan and reduce Value Added Tax and surcharge on petrol and diesel immediately.
“Rahul Gandhi should also tell Punjabis why he has not given such direction till now even though petroleum prices in Punjab are the highest in north India and the third highest in the country,” the former Deputy Chief Minister said in a statement here.
The SAD was exposing the Congress double speak on this most sensitive issue that concerns the well-being of the common man, Sukhbir said.
“Surely, the state government can give relief to the common man as well as the farming community by reducing its share in petrol and diesel prices by Rs 10 per litre,” the SAD chief added.
He also pointed out that Capt Amarinder Singh had, while announcing the party’s election manifesto in the run up to the 2017 Assembly elections, promised that the Congress if elected to power would reduce fuel prices substantially. “Capt Amarinder is already one-and-a-half years too late in delivering on this promise. He should not delay taking this step any further”.
Speaking about the deceitful politics of the Congress, Sukhbir said it was condemnable that while Rahul was demanding that petrol and diesel prices be brought under the GST regime, the Congress government in Punjab was flatly refusing to do this. “Rahul and the Punjab government should both explain this contradictory stand instead of shedding crocodile tears on petrol and diesel prices”.
He said not only this, earlier when Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar had announced that he would prevail upon his party’s government to reduce tax on petroleum products, State Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had refused to give a relief of even one paisa. This proves that the government is only resorting to sham ‘dharnas’ on issue of petroleum prices to shift attention from its own failure to address the issue. It is also deflecting attention from the burning issues of Punjab be it the Congress failure to waive off farmer loans of Rs 90,000 crore, reneging on the ‘ghar ghar naukari’ promise.