NEW DELHI: BJP leader and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan hit out at the Congress on Monday, saying the central government is using the tax revenue earned from the petrol and diesel sale to fund welfare programmes for the poor and not for any "son-in-law or Rajiv Gandhi Foundation".
Pradhan's barb at the Congress came after the opposition party president, Sonia Gandhi, attacked the BJP-led government for raising fuel prices 22 times since the lockdown, accusing it of "extorting" people, and sought an immediate rollback of the hikes.
Hitting back, Pradhan said Gandhi seems to have forgotten that states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, where the Congress is in power on its own or with allies, have also hiked VAT on petrol and diesel and burdened people.
Instead of doing politics over the issue, the Congress chief should get factual information from these states, he said in a statement, adding that the Centre and states are using the money to meet challenges being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pradhan said, "The tax earned from petrol and diesel is being spent on healthcare, generating employment and giving people financial security.
"The BJP government uses people's money for the poor's welfare through direct benefit transfer. It is not like the Congress, which would use the revenue for welfare of a son-in-law and the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF)."
"Sonia Gandhi is saying so because the Congress has for generations used power to transfer money meant for government schemes to bank accounts of son-in-law and the RGF," he alleged.
The BJP has targeted Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra for alleged dubious land deals and has also been raising the issue of donations to the RGF to attack the Congress.
Pradhan said the global economy is undergoing a crisis due to the pandemic, which has also posed demand and supply issues for petroleum products.
The common consumer has not been affected much by the recent hike in oil products as, he said, their demand had gone down by 70 per cent in April and May before it was revived in June after the 'unlock' began.
When a family faces a crisis, then its members arrange financial resources to deal with it, he said, adding that the recent hike in oil products should be seen in a similar manner.
Gandhi charged the government with profiteering at the expense of people, saying its duty was to help them in times of crisis and not make profits out of their hard-earned money.
Participating in the Congress' "Speak Up Against Fuel Hike" campaign across the country, she said on the one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc and on the other, the rise in petrol and diesel prices was making life very difficult for the people.