Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing an online event on Wednesday, blamed the previous governments for the surge of petrol prices to over Rs 100 in India. He was inaugurating oil and gas projects in Tamil Nadu.

“Can a diverse and talented nation like ours be so energy import dependent. I do not want to criticise anyone but I want to say, had we focused on this subject much earlier, our middle-class would not be burdened,” PM Modi said as quoted by news agency PTI.

On Wednesday, prices of petrol and diesel were hiked for the ninth consecutive day, with the price of premium petrol in Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar town reaching Rs 100.13 per litre. Diesel prices reached Rs 92.13 per litre in Sri Ganganagar.

Congress and other opposition parties blamed PM Modi for the surge in fuel prices. Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said: “We demand an immediate withdrawal of this additional ‘Modi Tax’ imposed over the last six years and eight months. This in itself will reduce petrol price to ₹61.92 per litre and diesel price to ₹47.51 per litre. Every common Indian deserves this relief immediately.”

However, Modi retorted by saying that the previous governments didn’t reduce the country’s energy import dependence.

“Our government is sensitive to the concerns of the middle class. That is why India is now increasing the focus on ethanol to help farmers and consumers,” he said, adding that “ethanol extracted from sugarcane is being doped in petrol to reduce the requirement of imports”.

“Currently, 8.5% of petrol is ethanol and this proportion is targeted to be raised to 20% by 2025, helping cut imports as well as give farmers an alternate source of income,” he explained further.