Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today defended the state government's decision to increase the petrol allowance to ministers from 750 litres to 1,000 litres a month, which haD drawn flak from the opposition BJP.
He said BJP has no moral right to criticise it because their government at the Centre did not reduce petrol and diesel prices even after the prices of international crude oil fell to USD 28 per barrel.
"Please ask them (BJP), what was the rate of crude oil when the (previous) NDA government was there? What is the rate of crude oil now - it's USD 28 per barrel. When the UPA government was there, it was USD 120 per barrel," Siddaramaiah told reporters in Bengaluru.
"In spite of falling crude oil prices, why have they not reduced the rate of petrol and diesel? What moral right do they have to criticise (our move to increase petrol allowance of ministers)," he asked.
The state government on January 28 had issued a notification increasing the petrol allowance of 31 ministers from 750 litres to 1,000 litres per month.
BJP criticised the decision, saying it came at a time when as many as 136 taluks in Karnataka are reeling under drought.
They also contended the hike in petrol allowance would prompt the government to shell out Rs 63,380 per month compared to Rs 47,535 per month per minister.
Siddaramaiah also flayed the central government for increasing excise duty when it had saved Rs 1.50 lakh crore in crude oil alone due to fall in international prices.
Home Minister G Parameshwara said the hike in petrol allowance was not related to the ministers' privileges.
"These are not related to one another. These are the steps a government has to take. This has nothing to do with the ministers' privileges," he said.
Sometimes, the ministers themselves bring some austerity measures, depending on the severity of the situation, he said.
Asked if it was necessary to hike petrol allowance to 1,000 litres when it is not possible for any minister to use the entire quota, Parameshwara said, "No, it is a provision made. It is not necessary to use the entire 1,000 litres."