Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam has once again sparked off a controversy by saying people who own bikes and cars are not starving and can afford to pay high prices for fuel.
Alphons was trying to explain the consistent rise in the fuel price for which the Centre has been facing backlash. Fuel prices in the country are at a three-year high when international crude prices have crashed, attracting strong criticism from both opposition and the public, which described them as insensitive to the common man's problems.
"So we are going to tax people who can afford to pay. Who buys petrol? Somebody who has a car, bike; certainly he is not starving. Somebody who can afford to pay, has to pay," Alphons said to mediapersons in Thiruvananthapuram.
Alphons, who had a recently stirred the hornet's nest by making contradictory remarks on beef, sought to justify the rising fuel prices by saying the Union government is working for the welfare of the downtrodden.
"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 meal a day. Lot of our people do not have access to toilet. Lot of people do not have a house," the minister said.
"We are imposing the taxes so that the poor have a dignified life. Money being collected today is not being stolen by us. It is going to cost enormous amount of money. So we are going to tax people who can afford to pay," he added.
Petrol and diesel prices have gone through the roof ever since the Central government announced daily revision of fuel prices. Petrol price in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday was at Rs 74.33 per litre, whereas a litre of diesel costs Rs 63.98.