Union Minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari has said subsidising petrol and diesel to bring down their rising retail prices will take money away from social welfare schemes of the government and that increase in oil prices is “unavoidable” since India is now linked to the global economy.
“This is an unavoidable, economic situation. It is directly linked to the global economy. If we have to sell it (petrol/diesel) cheap, it means we will have to buy it at higher prices and subsidise it here,” Gadkari told The Indian Express in an interview Wednesday.
“If we subsidise that, all the money from our social security schemes will vanish,” he said.
Gadkari said that subsidising retail prices of petrol and diesel would take money away from irrigation schemes, the Ujwala scheme of free LPG to villages, the rural electrification process, the Mudra scheme of loans, and others. “Now there is a health insurance scheme planned for 10 crore families. There is the crop insurance scheme. We have only a limited amount of money. So if we subsidise (petrol/diesel), toh gadbad ho jaayega,” he said.
Asked if taxes levied on petroleum products should be cut to give relief to consumers, he said: “That is the foundation of the economy. If anything has to be decided on that, our Finance Minister will decide.”
A proponent of alternative fuels, Gadkari said the government was instead working on proliferating methanol, ethanol, biodiesel, electric vehicles and such “import substitute, cost effective and pollution-free” alternatives.
“…only 30 per cent of our oil is indigenous, while 70 per cent is through imports. So we will try to lower the cost of our imports, we can carry out some global acquisition of oil fields in the world, like we did in Russia. But naturally, we don’t have the capital to fulfil the requirement of 70 per cent imports,” he said.
On the opposition unity on display Wednesday at the swearing-in ceremony of the JD(S)-Congress government in Bengaluru, Gadkari, considered the architect of the BJP’s post-poll alliance and government formation in Goa, claimed the Karnataka coalition would not last six months.
“My best wishes are with them, but as per my political understanding, the Congress-JD(S) government will not last six months. This is not a curse. Just that they were never in sync with each other. Their cadres and leaders are all different. They are not in tune with each other,” he said.
Asked why the BJP failed to form the government in Karnataka, Gadkari said the party did not want to indulge in horse trading (“khareed farokht”): “We never wanted to do horse trading. The coalition had infighting over leadership. There was possibility of a rift. Even now, forming the cabinet and also satisfying everyone will not be easy.”