Several chief ministers attacked the Union government again on Thursday in the row over petrol and diesel levies, accusing it of being coercive, not cooperative, even as Union petroleum minister Hardeep Singh Puri opened a new front in the controversy by criticizing Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Delhi for their Value-added tax (VAT) rates on jet fuel.
The debate erupted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated on Wednesday, during a meeting with chief ministers on the topic of Covid-19, that it was in the spirit of cooperative federalism to decrease gasoline taxes to assist residents who are suffering from the impact of rising inflation. Modi specifically mentioned Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Jharkhand, all of which have non- Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) administrations.
In response to Modi's words, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin accused the Centre of pretending to lower gasoline tariffs owing to elections in some states. This is something that people are aware of. Who displays genuine interest in lowering gasoline prices and who pretends and blames others is up to the people to determine, He stated.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president accused the Centre of concealing facts by highlighting his government's decision to reduce VAT on fuel by 3 per liter in August. According to the Prime Minister, certain states are refusing to cooperate with the Centre, To put it succinctly, it's like concealing a big pumpkin in a dish of rice Stalin was alluding to a Tamil proverb.
Puri accused opposing parties of hypocrisy. Have you ever pondered why air ticket costs haven't dropped? Aviation turbine fuel accounts for approximately 40% of the cost of airline operations. However, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Delhi levy a hefty 25% + VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF), whilst BJP states Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Nagaland, as well as the Union Territory (UT) of J&K, levy only 1%, he wrote in a series of tweets on Thursday.
"Such hypocrisy on the part of opposition-ruled nations. PM Modi Ji's vision of 'hvaaii cppl se hvaaii jhaaj tk' assures inexpensive air travel for average residents, yet these states present barriers. They stage rallies against oil prices, but then swindle the public to fatten their wallets," He continued.
The price of fuel and diesel in India has risen in unison with the rise in global oil costs, notably since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. On November 3, the Centre decreased central taxes on petrol by 5 rupees per liter and diesel by 10 rupees per liter.
Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister of Kerala, said that the Centre was avoiding its obligations by singling out a select states. Instead of criticizing states, the Union government should take constructive measures to reduce the ever-increasing gasoline prices. States are hurting from the effects of the epidemic, and they are not receiving GST dues on a regular basis. This is contrary to the notion of cooperative federalism, He stated this in a Facebook post.
TN Balagopal, the state finance minister, underlined that the Kerala government had no intentions to reduce the tax on gasoline and diesel. Rahul Gandhi, a senior Congress politician, slammed the Prime Minister, claiming his concept of federalism was not cooperative, but coercive. The 51-year-old MP said that the Prime Minister was abdicating his responsibilities by blaming states for high petrol costs, despite the fact that the Centre collected 68% of all fuel taxes.
Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal and head of the Trinamool Congress, claimed the Centre was attempting to collect income by imposing more burdens on ordinary people, and that the true goal of Wednesday's conference was to blame the states.
Ajit Pawar, Maharashtra's deputy chief minister, stated that the state cabinet may examine the VAT charged on gasoline and fuel.