Union Minister KJ Alphons courted controversy on Saturday when he said that people who own vehicles are not starving and can afford to pay higher prices for fuel.

His comments come at a time when fuel prices are at a three-year high even after international crude prices being reportedly low.

“We are going to tax people who can afford to pay. Somebody who has a car, bike; certainly is not starving. Somebody who can afford to pay, has to pay,” he said.

Speaking to media, Alphons said the government is for the welfare of the downtrodden, and ensure that every village gets electricity, houses and toilets are being made.

“It is going to cost an enormous amount of money. So we are going to tax people who can afford to pay,” Alphons said.

Opposition parties criticised Alphons statement and described them as insensitive to the common man’s problems.

Congress leader and former petroleum minister Veerappa Moily attacked Alphons saying it was an atrocious statement.

“This is how bureaucrats, who come to politics, have no understanding of people’s problems. Many of the ministers in Modi’s government are like this,” Moily said.

Petroleum products do not come under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and prices vary at locations according to state taxes.