**New Delhi:** Far from being impressed by the Rs 2.50 per litre cut in petrol and diesel prices by the Narendra Modi government on Thursday, the opposition called the move a “panic reaction” and a hogwash, and demanded greater reduction in fuel prices.
The Congress dared the Prime Minister to bring the fuel prices back to the 2014 level, instead of throwing a “pittance of one or two rupees” at the public.
Announcing the price cut in the afternoon, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said of the Rs 2.50, Rs 1.50 per litre will be the excise duty cut while the oil marketing companies will absorb Re 1 per litre.
Pointing out that the Modi government, ever since coming to power in May 2014, has increased central excise duty 12 times — 211 per cent for petrol and 443 per cent for diesel, party Spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime of effecting a “fuel loot” totalling Rs 13 lakh crore.
“This price reduction is a panic reaction. If the government is serious, it should have withdrawn the excise hike of 211 per cent on petrol and 443 per cent on diesel levied since May 2014,” he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Centre should slash fuel prices by “at least Rs 10 per litre” and also withdraw the cess on petroleum products.
“This government at the Centre is not bothered about the well-being of the masses… The Centre should also withdraw the cess on petroleum products. The increase in fuel prices has a spiralling effect on the prices of essential commodities,” she said.
Calling the excise duty cut on fuel as “cheating”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, too, demanded a Rs 10 per litre excise duty roll back on petrol and diesel.
“Modi government had hiked excise duty by Rs 10 and reduced it by only Rs 2.50 today. This is cheating. The Centre should reduce excise by Rs 10,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said that the Thursday’s price cut has exposed the government claim that it has no control over fuel prices.
“Today the government’s lie that it has no control over price rise has been nailed. The profiteering BJP is exploiting the public by working on the formula of ‘hike Rs 25, cut Rs 2.50′,” Yadav tweeted.
He said that the government “stages a drama” of reducing oil prices near election, and added that now even the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s supporters are “feeling cheated” by their own government.