Petrol@100: PM Modi says “previous” govts should have focused on reducing energy import dependence
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the middle-class today would not face burden had the “previous” governments focussed on reducing India’s dependence on energy import. The PM’s statement comes on the day when the price of petrol in India crossed the Rs 100 milestone.
“Can a diverse and talented nation like ours be so energy import-dependent,” Modi asked during a function to inaugurate oil and gas projects in poll-bound Tamil Nadu. “I do not want to criticize anyone but I want to say that had we focussed on this subject earlier, our middle-class would not have to face the burden.”
In his speech, Modi did not refer to the constant rise in retail fuel prices. He said India imported over 85% of its oil needs in the financial year 2019-20 and nearly 53% of its gas requirement.
As the price of fuel was raised for the ninth consecutive day, petrol price reached Rs 100 in Rajasthan. The rising fuel price has been a topic of discussion in almost every household. Opposition parties have blamed the Modi government for hiking taxes so that the Centre can reap benefits and putting burden on middle-class families. Though some in the opposition are demanding reduction of prices, there are no mass protests taking place in the country. The opposition is quite divided and most of the talk is done on social media. Some opposition members are alleging that the Modi government could be planning to bring down the fuel prices before the upcoming elections in multiple states this year.
Meanwhile, PM Modi said that his government is sensitive to the concerns of the middle-class families. “Our government is sensitive to the concerns of the middle class. That is why India is now increasing the focus on ethanol to help farmers and consumers,” he said.
Though the Prime Minister said his government is sensitive to the middle-class concerns, reality seems to far from it. In 2020, the price of crude oil crashed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the fuel prices in India did not reduce. However, now with the demand for fuel is increasing so, have the price for international crude oil. The government does have an option to bring down fuel prices and i.e., reducing taxes on petrol and diesel. However, if the government reduces taxes, the revenue generated will be impacted.
According to reports, the Malappuram Chamber of Commerce has asked the Kerala government to reduce fuel prices by following the Assam government's footsteps. Assam managed to bring down fuel prices by Rs 5 per litre. Only time will tell if Kerala government will bring down fuel prices considering the Assembly elections are just a few months away.