FILE: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (Press Trust of India photo)
Fuel prices seem to be the latest flashpoint between the Congress and the Modi government.
On Tuesday, Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala accused the Modi government of "not passing on the benefits of historic fall in international crude prices" to consumers.
"India is the only country where fuel for scooters is costlier than fuel for jet planes," Mr Surjewala said.
In an interview to NDTV, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley shared a sharp rebuttal. "There is something seriously wrong in the last 7-8 months with the Congress party's arithmetic... they thought that they'll get 272, got 44," he said, a scathing reference to the Congress' performance in
the national election. "Every fortnight, you reassess what the oil pool profit is, what the oil pool deficit is. Now, out of the 11 occasions that we've brought the prices down, eight times it has been passed on entirely to the consumer," he said to NDTV. (Watch)
But the Congress says arguments like "oil pool deficit" no longer hold as the Modi government has completely decontrolled oil pricing. In other words, retail prices for consumers should be entirely linked to international crude prices.
Mr Surjewala argued that in May 2014, when the Modi government took charge, crude prices were $110 a barrel, and are now down to $56 a barrel. Yet, retail prices of petrol and diesel have not declined proportionately, he charged.
"But during the same period, aviation turbine fuel has come down from Rs 76 a litre to Rs 52 a litre. That's almost 10 rupees less than what a person using a scooter pays for his petrol. Why is the Modi government betraying the farmer and the common man by refusing to pass on the benefit of a historic reduction in international crude prices?" asked Mr Surjewala.