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Ra Ga attacks PM Modi over fuel price issue: ‘It’s coercive’

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, April 28, hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his federalism is “not cooperative but coercive”.

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His remarks came a day after Modi flagged higher fuel prices in many opposition-ruled states and urged them to reduce VAT in “national interest” to benefit the common man.

Gandhi alleged that the prime minister is abdicating his responsibility by blaming states for the high fuel prices even when the Centre has taken 68 percent of all fuel taxes. “High Fuel prices – blame states. Coal shortage – blame states. Oxygen shortage – blame states,” he said in a tweet.

Talking about Centre-state cooperation, PM Modi gave the example of petrol, diesel tax and said some states reduced their VAT on fuel after Centre waived the tax last year. But some states did not, which is an injustice to their people and also to the states which have reduced the tax. Naming Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Jharkhand, PM Modi said these states have not reduced the tax on fuel and have been earning more revenue than states like Karnataka, Gujarat which have reduced the fuel tax, thereby sacrificing their revenue.

The issue has snowballed into a massive controversy with each of the states named by PM Modi disagreeing with the claims PM Modi made. Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri countered the states and said petrol will be cheaper if opposition-ruled states cut taxes on fuel instead of imported liquor, taking a swipe at Maharashtra. “BJP ruled States have a VAT on petrol & diesel in the range of ₹14.50 to ₹17.50 /ltr, while taxes levied by states ruled by other parties are in the range of ₹26 to ₹32 /ltr. The difference is clear. Their intent is only to protest & criticise, not extend relief to the people,” the Union minister said.

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To this, Sena leader, Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said the Centre is yet to give ₹78.704 crore GST compensation to the states.

Telangana minister KT Rama Rao said fuel prices have shot up because of the NPA central government. “Name-calling states for not reducing VAT even though we never increased it; is this the co-operative federalism you’re talking about @narendramodi ji? Telangana hasn’t increased VAT on fuel since 2014 & rounded off only once,” the minister said.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said her government spent ₹1,500 crore in the last three years to subsidise petrol and diesel prices in the state. “PM Narendra Modi has delivered a completely one-sided and misleading speech. Facts shared by him were wrong. We have been providing a subsidy of Re 1 on every litre of petrol and diesel for the last three years. We’ve spent ₹1,500 crore on this,” Mamata said after Wednesday’s meeting.

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