KJ Alphons
In picture: KJ Alphons.Twitter/KJ Alphons official handle

In a rather insensitive comment, Union tourism minister KJ Alphons has justified petrol price hike saying people who own bikes and cars are not starving and can afford to pay higher prices. 

Alphons' comments drew sharp criticism from Congress which attributed the insensitive remarks to the long years the NDA minister spent in the bureaucracy. 

Despite the international crude oil prices coming down by 50 percent in the last three years, the petrol and diesel prices are at a high in India.

"So we are going to tax people who can afford to pay. Somebody who has a car, bike; certainly he is not starving. Somebody who can afford to pay has to pay," the Union tourism minister is quoted by NDTV as saying.

He further said the taxes collected by the government are being used to improve the poor people's life unlike during the Congress regime. 

"Prime Minister has a huge dream for the poor of India. What is that dream? It is very simple. 30 percent 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," the newly-inducted NDA minister said.

Former petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily called Alphons' remarks atrocious and insensitive. "This is how bureaucrats, who come to politics, have no understanding of people's problems. Many of the ministers in PM Modi's government are like this," Mr Moily said.

Indian Oil Corporation Petrol prices petrol price hike IOC
Reuters file

Previously, Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari recalled that BJP termed the party an "economic terrorist" when they increased fuel prices. He asked if the BJP-led central government be labelled with the same term now.

KJ Alphons, who spent a major part of his career as a diplomat, has been given the union tourism portfolio in the recent cabinet reshuffle.