Thiruvananthapuram: Bureaucrat turned Union tourism minister KJ Alphons stoked a controversy on Saturday when he justified fuel price hikes when he said that people who own bikes and cars are not starving and can afford to pay the increased prices.
“Who buys petrol? Somebody who has a car, bike; certainly he’s not starving. People who can afford to pay should pay,” he said, adding that people who always criticise fuel price hike should remember it is for the benefit of the country.
His comments coming at a time when fuel prices are at a three-year high when international crude prices have crashed attracted strong criticism from opposition parties which described them as insensitive to the common man’s problems.
Congress leader and former petroleum minister Veerappa Moily called it an atrocious statement. “This is how bureaucrats, who come to politics, have no understanding of people’s problems. Many of the ministers in Modi’s government are like this”.
Speaking to media at Thiruvananthapuram, Alphons said the Union government was imposing tax to help the poor lead a dignified life.
“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 a day. Lot of our people do not have access to toilet. Lot of people do not have a house,” he said.
This is not the first time Alphons has courted trouble since he was made a minister. Recently, he advised foreign tourists to eat beef in their countries before coming to India