Tinsukia: As fuel prices continue to rise, making new records every passing day, Union MoS (Petroleum & Natural Gas) Rameshwar Teli defended the government’s position claiming that the unabated rise is on account of “free” COVID-19 vaccines given to citizens.
“Fuel prices aren’t high but include the tax levied. You must have taken free vaccine, where will the money come from? You haven’t paid it, this is how government is collecting it,” the minister has said, snowballing a strong backlash.
Backlash on social media
“You promised us free vaccination @narendramodi ji, but now the people of our country has been compensating this by paying extra for #FuelPrices. Is this the bitter truth that is leaked by your responsible Minister @Rameswar_Teli?”: Jagdish Bhuyan, general secretary of newly-formed regional party Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP), on Twitter tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Another Twitterati, Bhagabaty, replied to the tweet: “If this fellow is speaking the truth then why Modi Ji is smiling on my vaccination certificate? It should have been my photo in the certificate.”
A Tweet from an account in the name of Bindaasfauji read: “Bhootni ke . . Petrol ka bhi injection hi laga do! Vote lene ke liye Janta ko ek baar Tuchiya bana diya, ab baar baar kaahe bana rahe ho!”
An account in the name of Neelnagar tweeted: “Phir modi ji ka photo lagakar free vaccine ka prachar q kar rahe ho bhai jab petrol, diesel aur gas se extra kama kar de rahe ho. Kitna tax liya aur kitna vaccine par kharch hua ye bhi batate chalo rameshwar teli ji@ANI @IYC @srinivasiyc”
Veena Bakshi tweeted: “The country owes a big thank you to Union MoS Petroleum Rameshwar Teli for the high fuel prices. That is how the govt gave free vaccines to the janta!!! But Teli kaka got literal free vaccine and continues to get free petrol!! Baaki … Sab Changa Si!”
Professor K Naheswar, whose profile suggests that he is a former professor in the department of Journalism at Osmania, tweeted: “Central minister claims high fuel prices are due to free vaccination. GOI allocated Rs 35,000 crores for free vaccines in the budget. Last year alone center mopped up Rs 3.64 lakh crores through taxes and levies on petroleum products. What a hypocrisy?”
Rs 35,000 crores ear-marked for COVID-19 vaccine
Presenting the budget earlier this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman positioned health and well being as one of the six crucial pillars of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) and ear-marked Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccines in the upcoming fiscal.
“I have provided Rs 35,000 crores for COVID-19 vaccine in budget estimates in 2021-22. I am committed to providing further funds, if requried,” Sitharaman had said in her budget speech.
What she never mentioned was that this money was coming from high fuel prices, as claimed by Union MoS Teli.
Congress national spokesperson Dr Shama Mohamed tweeted: “Petroleum minister @Rameswar_Teli says fuel taxes are high to fund free covid vaccines. The cost for vaccinating all adults in India is ₹67,193 crore. The reality is that BJP govt has collected Rs 25 lakh cr in fuel tax till now. This ‘jumla’ is nothing but utter nonsense!”
Petrol prices continue to soar
On Monday, petrol and diesel price were hiked for the seventh day in a row. Petrol and Diesel price rose by 30 and 35 paise respectively. In Mumbai, petrol crossed Rs 110-mark, in Delhi, it crossed Rs 104-mark while several districts in Assam recorded a century.
Earlier, Assam BJP president Bhabesh Kalita had suggested that three persons should ride in a motorcycle and people should practice walking when asked about rising fuel prices.
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