MUMBAI: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday justified the hikes in fuel prices, thrice in the last four days, saying that the oil prices had gone up within the international market owing to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, which was beyond the Indian government’s control.
Speaking at a session titled “New India, New Manifesto-Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas,” at the ABP Network’s inaugural ‘Ídeas of India’ summit here on Friday, Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, also said that, “Sometimes, Hindutva is projected in a wrong way.” “In India, 80 per cent of the oil is imported. Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the oil prices have spiralled up within international markets and we can not do anything about that,” he said when asked about the high petrol and diesel prices and how the government was planning to the issue.
The minister said that he has been making a pitch for making India self-reliant since 2004, “with which, we need to make our own fuel,” while laying stress on the need for developing indigenous energy generation capabilities.
Petrol and diesel prices were hiked by 80 paise a litre each on Friday, the third increase in four days, as oil firms recoup losses from holding rates during the period prior to the recently-concluded assembly elections.
These hikes are the steepest single-day rise since the daily price revision began in June 2017.
With three increases beginning March 22, petrol and diesel prices have gone up by Rs 2.40 a litre.
A record 137-day hiatus in rate revision ended on March 22 with an 80 paise per litre increase in rates, and similar hikes have followed in the subsequent days.
The prices had been on a freeze since November 4 ahead of the assembly elections in five states — a period during which the cost of crude oil soared by USD 30 per barrel.
“India will soon have a Rs 40,000 crore ethanol, methanol and bio-ethanol production economy, reducing our dependence on petroleum imports,” he said.
Leading car and two-wheeler manufacturers in India are working on developing products with flex-fuel engines which will be launched in the coming months, he mentioned.
Highlighting the manufacturing capabilities of India in developing battery and green hydrogen technology, he said, “The prices of IC (internal combustion) engines and electric vehicles will be on par in India in the next two years. We are working on developing green hydrogen production indigenously in the country by harnessing it from sources like sewage water and biomass.” Emphasising that the BJP does not “accept” any discrimination based on caste, religion, language or gender, he said, “Sometimes, Hindutva is projected in a wrong way. The basic principle of Hindutva is justice for all and appeasement of none.” According to Gadkari, in the BJP’s philosophy, “nationalism” is the primary focus.
“The second focus lies in good governance and development while the third most important pillar is Antyodya, under which we try to uplift those who belong to socially and economically backward classes,” he said.
Stating that “the Supreme Court has rightly described Hindutva as a way of life”, Gadkari said that religion and community are different from each other.
“So sometimes, Hindutva is interpreted as anti-Christian and anti-Muslim. In the last seven years (since the Modi-led NDA government came into power), none of the Central government schemes have been discriminatory against anyone. There was no communal approach in our schemes,” he said.
On the non-BJP states not declaring the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ tax-free, unlike some BJP ruled states, he said, “The Indian Constitution has a Federal structure. Every state government has a right either to make or not to make a movie tax-free. We respect that.” On being asked about the lack of a strong opposition in the country, Gadkari said, “I want to tell the opposition that in politics, no defeat is ultimate.” He quoted former US president Richard Nixon, “A man is not finished when he is defeated but a man is finished when he quits.”–(PTI)