'We will see what can be done', says Puri on reducing petrol, diesel prices

Govt has ensured there is no oil price rise since April 2022, says minister

Hardeep-Singh-Puri Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri | PTI

Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday that oil companies will be in a position to look at the issue of reducing petrol and diesel prices if the international crude cost remains stable and these firms have a good next quarter.

The Narendra Modi-led government has ensured that there is no rise in oil prices since April 2022, the BJP leader said and noted that it will make certain that consumers suffer no hardship.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here to mark the Modi government's nine years in power, Puri also attacked Rahul Gandhi for his remarks on Rafale and other issues, saying politics is all about credibility, and claimed that the Congress leader's statements have been proven false in the past.

He "suddenly remembers" the condition of minorities during his visits abroad, Puri said and noted that the 1983 Nellie massacre of Muslims and the 1984 killings of Sikhs occurred during the Congress rule.

The minister cited growth in the infrastructure sector under the Modi government to mock the former Congress president's jibe at the government that it is always looking into the rearview mirror to blame others.

"His eyesight should be checked. He may be wearing the wrong glasses," the minister said, noting that the Indian economy has risen to the fifth position globally from tenth under the UPA government and citing other development figures.

To questions on whether a reduction in oil prices was under consideration, he said he was not in a position to make an announcement on the issue.

"As we go along we will see what can be done," the minister said.

He said state-run oil marketing companies did "okay" in the last quarter.

"They have recovered some of their losses. They have been very good corporate citizens. As we go along we will see what can be done," he said.

One may like to give everything for "free" but then they enter the dangerous territory of freebie politics, Puri said, accusing the opposition parties of doing "revdi politics".

The issue of pricing is a dynamic matter, he said, adding that the government has taken several welfare measures in its nine years term to help people.

Puri said the non-BJP state governments are most vocal about petroleum prices even when they sell petrol and diesel at higher prices than BJP governments by not reducing VAT.

In this context, he referred to the situation in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka without naming them and noted the power crisis they have suffered.

The western neighbour has to cut down on electricity after evening, the minister said and lauded Modi for pursuing policies that kept availability and affordability under control while also pushing sustainability by promoting green energy.

The government is also working to push the country's refining capacity to 400-450 million metric tonnes from around 252 MMT now, he said.

Puri cited various data, including those related to the housing and urban development ministry, also under him, to assert that the government's policies are sound, forward-looking and well-intentioned, and credited Modi's "decisive leadership" for it.

Taking a swipe at former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan for forecasting that India may not grow at a faster rate than 5-5.5 per cent, Puri wondered if this is what Rajan wished and said he should have at least acknowledged his mistake after India clocked 7.2 per cent growth in the last fiscal.

He is an eminent economist who has turned to politics, Puri said in a dig at Rajan and used the barb of "prophets of doom" to slam critics like him.

Praising Modi, he said the government is characterised by "niti, niyat and neta" (policies, intentions and leader) as he has led from the front on every issue.

To a question about the chances of the BJP allying with Akali Dal once again, Puri said it is for the party to take a call on the matter.

But he noted that the BJP has begun to make a mark in rural areas of Punjab since it began expanding its organisation in the state after its separation from the regional party. 

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