Bommai mounts counter-attack after Congress kicks up a storm over rise in fuel prices
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday mounted a counter-attack on the Opposition Congress that raised the issue of the steep hike in fuel prices in the House, besides holding protests on bullock carts and bicycles outside to draw attention to it.
Mr. Bommai described the protests as “entertainment” and said, “People know that after riding bullock carts and bicycles, you go home in your luxury cars.”
He also chided the Congress on the perceived differences between Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief D.K. Shivakumar and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah. “While riding the bullock cart, the reins were with Mr. Siddaramaiah, but the whip was with Mr. Shivakumar. And both did not have coordination,” he said, adding that this had resulted in some falling off the cart.
Quoting the poet
While Mr. Siddaramaiah had quoted a verse from 15th century poet Kumaravyasa to describe the hardships faced by people under a cruel ruler, Mr. Bommai used another verse by the same poet which said that a good ruler collected taxes like a “florist plucks flowers without damaging the plant, a bee collects nectar without affecting flower, and a farmer milks without harming the cow”.
Mr. Bommai said that while the price of petrol had increased by 60%, from ₹48 to ₹77 per litre in 2007-14 under the UPA government, the hike was 30%, from ₹77 to ₹100+, under the Modi-led government between 2014-2021. “The Congress looted the people of the country,” he said, amidst sloganeering by the Congress members.
Claiming that compared to the UPA government, the NDA government had substantially increased Minimum Support Price for various farm commodities, he alleged that the farmers’ protest was “sponsored by the Congress and some foreign agents” in the country. The hike in excise duty was used to provide higher MSP and for handling COVID-19, he added.
Maintaining that it was necessary to raise resources in the present situation through various taxes to protect people during the pandemic, he claimed that the World Health Organization had hailed the manner in which India had handled it. Escalating the attack, Mr. Bommai said that none of the Congress leaders could come close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in stature. This resulted in a heated exchange between the BJP and the Opposition members.
Amid the din, the Chief Minister said fuel prices were bound to reduce as the NDA was planning various measures such as reducing oil imports and increasing production of ethanol. However, not satisfied with his reply, Congress leaders staged a walkout.