GUWAHATI: Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil on Sunday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "failing" to divert government money to fight COVID-19, and instead, spending on the ambitious Central Vista project, which "could have been stalled" for now.
He also took a jibe at the BJP-led government at the Centre over skyrocketing prices of petrol, diesel and essential commodities.
"Every country is trying to help its citizens during this COVID-19 crisis.
A country like the US is even giving away cash to its people.
But our 'sultan' is not helping people, but spending crores of rupees on the central vista project," the All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson said.
"Shouldn't the money being spent on the project be used for buying vaccines for the time being?" he said.
The redevelopment project of the Central Vista - the power corridor of the country - envisages a new triangular Parliament building, a Common Central Secretariat, revamping of the 3-km-long Rajpath from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, and new residences for the prime minister and the vice- president.
Gohil was addressing a press conference here as part of the Opposition Congress' nationwide series of agitational programmes against the rise in fuel prices and essential commodities.
Demonstrations, cycle rallies and signature campaigns are also being undertaken in the state by the party.
Gohil claimed that all other countries have reduced prices of petrol and diesel as international crude oil rates have fallen.
"Sadly, the only country where the government did not pass on the benefits to the people is my country India," he said.
He said between January 1 and July 10, fuel prices have been hiked 71 times, and the Modi government has earned over Rs 25 lakh crore through excise duty in the last seven years of its tenure.
"International crude oil prices had been over USD 100 for the last three years of the Congress-led UPA government from 2011-12 to 2013-14, but it had ensured that the common man was not burdened," Gohil asserted.
He also criticised the Centre for high tax on fertilisers and accused the union government of being "anti- farmer".
"The increase in the prices of diesel, fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, electricity, and agriculture equipment effected by the government has increased the cost of cultivation for farmers by about Rs 20,000 per hectare," the Congress leader said.
Quoting a Kotak Institutional Securities Research, Gohil claimed that in comparison to March, the prices of common household items have increased up to 42 per cent in June.