The BJP and the central government came under fire over the skyrocketing fuel prices with the Congress leading the charge in the Odisha Assembly.
Even the ruling BJD targeted the central government for its failure to curb fuel prices and for not sharing the taxes with the states.
A few Congress MLAs peddled their way to the Odisha Assembly on bicycles to register their protest. Outside the Assembly, Congress activists staged protests in front of huge cutouts of PM Narendra Modi at different petrol filling stations.
Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahnipati, Santosh Singh Saluja launched a diatribe against the BJP led government at the centre as well as the state BJD government for taxing petrol and diesel and jacking up prices beyond the reach of the common man.
Both the state and centre are responsible, both are hand in glove and are inflicting untold misery on people, the charged.
Accusing the BJD and BJP of double standards, the Congress said both these parties were hitting the streets and organizing protests when the UPA was in power and fuel prices were raised due to spiraling international crude prices.
What are they doing now, why is the BJD silent , they questioned while noting that the international crude price was less than half of what it was during the UPA regime but the fuel price had doubled.
They cited instances of several states , including Congress ruled ones which had reduced VAT on petrol and diesel to give some relief to the people . Ruling BJD members Dhruba Sahu, Latika Pradhan, Aswini Patra criticized the central government and pointed out that four types of cess and tax is being imposed . It is all in the non-divisible pool and is not shared with the state government, they said.
What happened to the promise of Achhe Din and the pledge to bring down fuel prices, they asked. The BJD members criticized the mismanagement of the economy by the central government .
The BJP leaders Bishnu Sethi and others defended the hike saying the taxes were for developmental activity and welfare programmes as well as infrastructure.
Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari gave a detailed breakup of the taxes, cess and VAT that is put on the base price of petrol and diesel. The centre is collecting much more than what the state does by way of VAT, he said.
The VAT collected goes to the funding of developmental projects and schemes, he added.
Meanwhile in a comment on the fuel prices, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told a media channel that from day one his ministry has been pleading for including it under the GST. He said the cut in production by oil producing countries due to suppressed demand during the pandemic has resulted in rise in prices and hoped that soon it will come down.