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The central government today came under attack in Odisha Assembly by ruling Biju Janata Dal and opposition Congress over increasing price of petroleum products despite a sharp fall in the price of crude oil in the international market. Opposition BJP, however, defended the NDA government at the Centre by asking the state government to bring petroleum products under the ambit of GST and reduce the rate of VAT on petrol and diesel. The issue was raised in the post-lunch session after an hour-long adjournment in the wake of an uproar by BJD and Congress members over the fuel price hike issue. Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat had adjourned the House till 3 pm. When the House reassembled after the lunch, Leader of Opposition Naraisngha Mishra of Congress slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly maintaining a double standard over the price hike of petrol and diesel. Quoting a tweet of Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat in 2012, Mishra said, today's prime minister had then said that unchecked price hike of fuel would lead to the downfall of the UPA government. Mishra asked, "What is happening today?" He said the price of petrol in 2012 was below Rs 70 a litre when the crude oil price was 135 dollar per barrel. Now the price of a barrel of crude oil is below 50 dollar but the petrol is sold at the rate of up to Rs 80, the Congress leader said. He also accused the NDA government of increasing the excise duty by nine times since 2014. People should get petrol and diesel at lower price as the rate of crude oil has come down, Mishra said adding it is not happening under the NDA rule. Without taking name of Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the Congress leader accused him of misleading the people. "The oil minister says that the money got from the fuel price rise is spent on welfare scheme.
Was the previous UPA government not spending on welfare schemes," he asked. Government Chief Whip Amar Prasad Satpathy of BJD said the fuel price hike led to rise in the price of essential commodities thus affected the poor and middle class people. "Now they (NDA) are raising the price of fuel on daily basis. This is done to appease the oil companies. The major share of excise duty is taken by the Centre and it also charges cess on many sectors," Satpathy said. Defending the Centre, BJP's Rabi Narayan Nayak claimed that VAT on petroleum products in Odisha is 26 per cent while it remained at 17 per cent in neighbouring West Bengal. As the state has been getting about 3.5 times more assistance during the NDA regime than that in the previous UPA government, it should reduce the rate of VAT, Nayak said. Earlier in the day, Congress members trooped to the well of the house against fuel price hike while BJD members shouted slogans against the Centre from near their seats. The debate on flyover collapse could not be taken up due to the adjournment, Speaker Amat allowed the members to speak on the subject in the post lunch session. Congress members demanded an impartial inquiry into the matter and Rs 1 crore compensation to the next of the kin of the deceased person. Mishra demanded a job for the widow of the man who died due to the flyover collapse at Bomikhal on September 10. The monsoon session of the Assembly came to an end today.
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