The Congress on Saturday hit out at the government over the hike in excise duty on petrol and diesel and demanded that the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices should be passed on to the people.
Congress' senior spokesperson Ajay Maken said the government should reduce the rates of petrol, diesel, and LPG by at least 35-40 per cent.
He said the Congress will strongly raise the issue both inside and outside Parliament to democratically pressurise the government to ensure people's welfare.
The government on Saturday hiked excise duty on petrol and diesel by a steep Rs 3 per litre each to garner about Rs 39,000 crore additional revenue as it repeated its 2014-15 act of not passing on gains arising from slump in international oil prices.
However, retail prices of petrol and diesel will not be impacted by the tax changes as state-owned oil firms adjusted them against the recent fall in oil prices and the likely trend in the near future, industry officials said.
Maken said the total incidence of excise duty on petrol has risen to Rs 22.98 per litre and that on diesel to Rs 18.83.
The tax on petrol was Rs 9.48 per litre when the Modi government took office in 2014 and that on diesel was Rs 3.56 a litre, he said.
Central excise duty has been hiked more than a dozen times since the BJP came to power, Maken said.
"The Modi-Shah government has looted the people by increasing excise duties and huge taxes on petroleum products and did not bring this under GST despite the consistent demand of Congress," he said.
"The ill-directed anti-people policies of the BJP government are responsible for the high prices of petrol, diesel and LPG despite crude oil consistently remaining down to less than 50 per cent for the last six years," Maken said.
The Congress demands that the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices should be forwarded to the people and the rates of petrol, diesel, and LPG be reduced by at least 35-40 per cent, Maken said, adding that petrol and diesel should be brought under the GST.
The Congress also demanded that the hike in excise duty/customs duty affected by Modi government since May 2014 on petroleum products should be withdrawn immediately until it is brought under the GST regime.
Member of Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Board Nilesh Shah has himself conceded that the government has earned a profit of Rs 3.4 trillions by not passing on the benefits of reduced oil prices to the consumer, Maken said.
International crude oil prices are the lowest in the last 15 years, down to $35-38 per barrel, yet petrol and diesel prices are skyrocketing, while the common people, the middle class, the farmers, the transporters and small and medium businesses are bearing the pain of high oil rates, Maken said.
"In Dollar terms, the international crude oil prices are down to the level of June-July 2004, when the petrol, diesel and LPG were available at Rs 35.71, Rs 22.74 and Rs 281.60 per cylinder respectively, which were quite cheap in comparison to the present rates," Maken said.
"For the last six years, the government and oil marketing companies have been making huge windfall gains amounting to lakhs of crores per year," Maken alleged.