BENGALURU: The Assembly on Wednesday witnessed heated arguments between the Opposition and the government during a debate on price rise. Opposition leader Siddaramaiah, who raised the issue, accused the BJP governments in the state and Centre of “criminal loot”.
He challenged Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to agree for an unanimous resolution requesting the Centre to reduce excise duty on petrol and diesel. He demanded a reduction in the cess and sales tax on petrol and diesel in the state as done by Tamil Nadu and suggested that the price be cut more than what was done in the neighbouring state. “Reduce the sales tax from 35% to 15% on petrol and from 24% to 15% on diesel,” he thundered. Bommai said he will respond to it on Thursday.
Rubbishing the BJP’s claim that UPA-era oil bonds were the reason for the spike in fuel prices, Siddaramaiah said it was the NDA government in 2002 which issued bonds worth Rs 9,000 crore. “When crude oil prices were about $140 per barrel in the international market, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during the UPA-I government, had raised Rs 1.4 lakh crore through bonds to reduce the burden on consumers and also to rescue the oil companies from loss,” he elaborated.
Ruling party members, including Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy, RDPR Minister KS Eshwarappa and Revenue Minister R Ashoka, attacked Siddaramaiah saying that he was raising an issue in the Assembly, which should more aptly be debated in Parliament, only to score brownie points. Health Minister Dr K Sudharkar attributed the fuel price hike to India importing 85% of its fuel needs and the devaluation of the rupee, which Opposition members like Dr Ajay Singh and Priyank Kharge refused to buy.
When Siddaramaiah gave instances of tweets by BJP Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy criticising the rise in fuel prices, Bommai countered by calling Swamy a freelance politician “who criticised the parties that he represented.” Siddaramaiah also demanded that the legislature be convened for 60 days. “We are in September... only 20 days of sessions were held this year. I urge the State Government to extend the ongoing session by another week,’’ he said.