New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) The government’s decision to raise the subsidised domestic LPG cylinder by Rs 4 each month to finally eliminate subsidies by March next year led to protests in Parliament on Tuesday with the opposition demanding a rollback of the decision.
The Lok Sabha witnessed a walkout by some opposition parties after the government refused to back off.
In the Rajya Sabha, opposition members forced an adjournment even as Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the proposal to revise prices of subsidised LPG cylinders had been made during UPA rule and the Modi government wanted subsidies to go only to the poor.
Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, Congress member K.C. Venugopal said the government was working on speedy elimination of subsidy on cooking gas and this will affect the common man.
“International prices of crude oil are coming down. What justification do you have to end the gas subsidy? The government should immediately withdraw its decision,” he said.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay agreed. “This is anti-people and it should be immediately withdrawn.”
Communist Party of India-Marxist’s P.K. Sreemathy Teacher pointed out that poor families will not be able to afford LPG.
The government told the Lok Sabha on Monday that it had authorised the oil marketing companies to raise the subsidised cooking gas price to eliminate all subsidies by March 2018.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar did not respond to the queries raised by the opposition.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the opposition that she cannot force the government to answer. The opposition members then walked out.
In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised by Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien who said LPG subsidy was being ended when prices of crude had seen a steep fall.
He was joined by other members who trooped near the Chairman’s podium raising slogans against the government.
The Chair adjourned the House for 10 minutes amid the din. As the House reconvened, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad again raised the issue.
Sharad Yadav, whose Janata Dal-United is now part of the ruling NDA, also slammed the government. “Will the government will run on oil?”
Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav said the government was “taking money from the poor to fill its coffers”.
Minister Pradhan said amid the din that an empowered Group of Ministers (GoM) was formed in 2010 under then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Its members included Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and Murli Deora and it had suggested that the price of domestic LPG would be increased by Rs 35 per cylinder.
He said the GoM had also said that price should be periodically revised based on the increase in paying capacity as reflected in rising per capita income.
Pradhan said the number of LPG subscribers had grown from 14 crore to 21 crore in three years.
“Our government is committed to the welfare of the poor. We distributed 2.60 crore new LPG connections… Subsidy will be given to the poor, not for the well-off.” As the din continued, the house was adjourned till 12 noon.
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