His comments have come at a time when the fuel prices are at a three-year high even as worldwide crude prices have crashed.
"Who buys petrol? Somebody who has a auto, bike".
Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam today said the Centre was mobilising resources for launching infrastructure projects and welfare measures for the poor and downtrodden in the country. "Certainly he is not starving; somebody who can afford to pay, has to pay", Alphons Kannanthanam said while giving justification on fuel price hike.
Congress leader and former petroleum minister Veerappa Moily called it an atrocious statement.
Alphons was inducted into the Narendra Modi-led government in the cabinet reshuffle that took place on September 3. Telangana Rashtra Samithi spokesman Bhanuprasad described Alphons' statement as shocking. "Somebody who can afford to pay, has to pay", the Tourism Minister said.
If state governments allow, petroleum and liquor would be brought under GST, he said.
The minister went on to say that welfare of the downtrodden is going to cost enormous amount of money. In India at least 30% of the people are starving. "So those who are using fuel have to cough up tax also", he said adding the tax being levied was reaching the public.
This was his first visit there after being sworn in as Union Minister and to make amends, the entire state leadership and top leaders were present to receive him and payasam (kheer) was served to all. He said, "They (tourists) can eat beef in their own country and come here", when asked by a reporter whether restrictions on consumption of beef in several states in the country will adversely affect the hospitality industry.