“Hypocrisy”: Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri Slams Oppn-Ruled States Over High Air-Ticket Rates

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the opposition-ruled states to cut VAT and work “in the spirit of cooperative federalism” in this “time of global crisis”. He said, “by not passing on benefits to the people, these states are doing them an ‘injustice’ and also harming neighbouring states.

On PM’s statement, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said that the opposition states have been getting a “step-motherly” treatment.

While Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray said the Centre owed Rs 26,500 crore to the state, and accused the Centre of step-motherly treatment towards Maharashtra, adding the state government is not responsible for the rise in prices of petrol and diesel, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at PM Modi asking when would the central government clear all the pending dues it owed to the state, and said that she would reduce the tax on the petroleum products more than the BJP-ruled states.

Apart from Maharashtra and West Bengal, Telangana finance minister T Harish Rao also alleged that the Centre that is ‘fleecing’ fuel consumers in the name of special excise, road cess and additional excise duties. Whereas, Jharkhand health minister Banna Gupta also hit out, calling the Covid-19 review meeting with Modi ‘political’ with more emphasis on fuel prices than the pandemic.

Amidst this war of words, now the Union Minister Puri’s remarks came a day after PM Modi accused the opposition-ruled states of not reducing Value Added Tax on petrol and diesel.

Even as the Centre and opposition-ruled states spar over high fuel prices, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has targeted the states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal and Delhi for steep air fares. In a tweet, he asked: “Ever wondered why air ticket prices haven’t come down?”

“Aviation Turbine Fuel constitutes about 40% of the cost of airline operations. But West Bengal, Maharashtra & Delhi impose massive 25%+ VAT on ATF while BJP states UP & Nagaland & UT of J&K charge just 1%,” he said.

Terming it as a “hypocrisy” of the opposition-ruled states, Puri further said that PM Narendra Modi ensures affordable air travel to common citizens but added that “these states create impediments”. “They manufacture protests against ‘oil prices’ but fleece the people to fill their coffers,” he further added, slamming the opposition-ruled states.

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