JAIPUR: Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot on Monday led a protest against the Centre over the "unprecedented" hike in petrol and diesel prices and said it has hammered the people at the time of economic hardship imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the protesters, Pilot said, "Due to the coronavirus crisis, demand for fuel has fallen all over the world. Despite having full stock of fuel, the government has burdened the common people by increasing fuel prices continuously for last 20 days."
Such a steep hike has not been effected in 70 years, he said, adding that it is "unprecedented".
Diesel price on Monday scaled a new high after prices were hiked for the 22nd time in just over three weeks, taking the cumulative increase to Rs 11.14 per litre.
Petrol price was increased by 5 paise per litre and diesel 13 paise a litre across the country, according to a price notification of state oil marketing companies.
Pilot said, "The poor and the middle class have been severely hit by the recent hikes. Such a situation has not been seen in any other country. All the countries are helping its people during the coronavirus crisis.
"The Centre has hammered the people when the country is facing economic slowdown. No government has hit its people so hard before."
He said petrol and diesel prices directly affect the common people but the Centre has not formulated any policy to deal with the economic slowdown and they passed on the burden to the masses.
"No government can ignore people's voice. Hike in petrol and diesel prices will have to be reversed," he demanded.
Deputy Chief Minister Pilot and other Congress leaders submitted a memorandum to the President through the district collector after the protest.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot did not take part in the protest.
Pilot also targeted the Centre over "different" statements given by the prime minister and the defence ministry on the border stand-off with China.
"But, the truth cannot be concealed. Satellite pictures have shown that borders are being encroached," he said.
"Can we let the martyrdom of 20 soldiers go in vain? The leadership should have strength. You cannot hide. You cannot lie. You will have to tell the truth and truth is that Chinese army is encroaching upon our land continuously," Pilot said.
He was referring to the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel in a clash with Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh earlier this month.
He said the people and the opposition parties were with the government in whatever step it wanted to take on the border issue.