NEW DELHI : Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken on Sunday began a campaign in the national capital to collect 10 lakh signatures against the rise in the price of petrol and diesel. He said the party will stage a protest on September 20 at Jantar Mantar to demand rollback of the excise and VAT (value added taxes) on petrol and diesel.
Maken arrived at a petrol pump near Zakir Hussain College, in central Delhi, along with scores of party workers to collect signatures -- the party proposes to collect signatures of 10 lakh people from the city.
Speaking to reporters, the former Union Minister said: "The 10 lakh signatures thus collected will be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to express the people's anguish at the unchecked rise in the prices of petrol and diesel."
He said that if excise and VAT duties are reduced, petrol could be sold in Delhi at Rs 34 per litre while diesel price would come down to Rs 32 per litre.
Explaining his signature drive against the fuel price rise, Maken said a form is distributed to the customer at a petrol pump with a question whether the customer agrees to the suggestion that if the excise and VAT duties are cut down, then petrol and diesel could be sold in Delhi for Rs 34 and Rs 32, respectively.
Lashing out at the central and Delhi governments, Maken said: "In the last three years, the Modi government increased the excise duty on petrol by 133 per cent and on diesel by 400 per cent while the Kejriwal government in Delhi increased VAT from 20 to 27 per cent on petrol per litre while VAT on diesel was increased from 12.5 per cent to 16.75 per cent."
Maken accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of hiking the excise duty on petrol and diesel by 11 times.
He also said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) -led Delhi government increased VAT on petrol and diesel twice.
"Due to these, the prices of petrol and diesel have soared sky-high," he said.
Hitting out at Kejriwal, Maken said: "Before the assembly elections, Kejriwal had declared that was no need to collect taxes as the government can run without collecting taxes."
He noted that Kejriwal, immediately on assuming power in Delhi, changed the law to hike VAT on petrol and diesel twice.
The Congress leader then said the prices of petrol and diesel have risen so sharply that the lives of the common people in financial terms were considerably affected and the government was silent on it.
He also said that the rise in the prices of petrol and diesel has affected the transport sector leading to a cascading effect on the prices of all essential commodities.
Maken reminded the Prime Minister that he had assured the people before the 2014 General Elections that he would reduce the prices of petrol and diesel.
"But ever since the BJP government came to power, the prices of petrol and diesel have only gone up, time and again," he alleged.