Prime News, National (New Delhi), March 15:- Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his comments asking consumers to tank up in preparation for an imminent hike in petrol and diesel prices, saying that one statement led to “hoarding” of 20 per cent fuel.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Puri said consumption went up by 20 per cent following the comment.
Petrol and diesel prices hit the freeze button just as electioneering for five states including Uttar Pradesh picked up. The record 130-day freeze was despite the cost of raw material jumping from USD 81 per barrel to USD 130 per barrel.
It was anticipated that once the elections are over, state-owned fuel retailers will start adjusting the prices, which was as much as Rs 12 a litre below cost. But the rates haven’t been changed even after the counting of votes ended, possibly not to give the opposition a handle before the beginning of the second half of the budget session on Monday.
“On 5th March, a political leader made a statement, saying, fill up your tanks quickly because petrol prices are going to go up as elections are over. And the consumption went up by 20 per cent,” Puri said without naming Gandhi. “It is a matter of shame that one statement led to hoarding of 20 per cent.” On March 5, Gandhi had asked people to get tanks up as the “election offer” will end soon.
“Quickly get your petrol tanks full. The ‘Election’ offer of the Modi government is going to end soon,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi and used a picture of a petrol pump saying “Hike” and “Coming back soon to fuel stations near you”.
The Congress has been accusing the BJP government of stalling the hike in fuel prices during elections and raising the prices soon after the polls are over.
The assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, started on February 10 and ended on March 7. The counting of votes took place on March 10.
Puri said international oil prices had gone up from USD 19.56 per barrel in 2020 to USD 130 per barrel earlier this month and are now down to USD 109 per barrel. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).