- Petrol, diesel rates at a three-year high despite dip in crude prices
- KJ Alphons says people with bikes and cars can afford higher prices
- Opposition slams remarks as insensitive, attacks government
Mr Alphons comments come at a time when petrol and diesel prices are at a high despite international crude prices declining by 50 per cent over the last three years.
"So we are going to tax people who can afford to pay. Somebody who has a car, bike; certainly he is not starving. Somebody who can afford to pay, has to pay," the union tourism minister said.
"Prime Minister has a huge dream for the poor of India. What is that dream? It is very simple. 30 per cent of Indians go to bed without a full meal a day. Lot of our people do not have access to toilet. Lot of people do not have a house," he said.
Former petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily called Alphons' defence of high prices as an atrocious and insensitive statement. "This is how bureaucrats, who come to politics, have no understanding of people's problems. Many of the ministers in PM Modi's government are like this," Mr Moily said.
This week, the Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari had asked if the central government qualified for the label of an "economic terrorist", a term that he claimed was used by the BJP when the Congress was in power for raising fuel prices.