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Oppn up in arms against govt’s bid to phase out LPG subsidy

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Upset over the Narendra Modi government's decision to hike the prices of domestic cooking gas (LPG) by Rs.4 per cylinder every month till next March or the elimination of all subsidies, a combined Opposition on Tuesday created uproar in both Houses of Parliament, seeking a rollback of the decision.

Protesting against this Modi government's move, the Opposition stalled the pre-noon proceedings in the Rajya Sabha.

The Congress, SP, TMC, BSP and Left MPs stormed the Well of the House, shouting slogans and seeking the withdrawal of the move.

They forced Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to first adjourn the House for 10 minutes and then till noon.

Raising the issue, Derek O'Brien (TMC) said the government was not fulfilling its social commitment to provide LPG cylinders at subsidised rates. He said the government was raising the prices of cooking gas even though oil prices have plunged from USD 111 per barrel to 48 now.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said following Prime Minister Modi's appeal many people had voluntarily given up subsidies so that subsidised LPG could be provided to the poor and needy. But the government has now decided to further hike the LPG cylinder prices to eliminate their subsidies.

"This is strongly condemnable. Government should withdraw it," he said.

Naresh Agarwal (SP) alleged this is a "government for profits".

When the House re-assembled after a brief adjournment, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress) said the government was "killing the poor" by its LPG price move at a time when global oil prices have plummetted to a multi-year low. "This is not acceptable," he said.

Amid noisy protests, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said this move arose out of a June 2010 decision taken by the then Congress-led UPA government to raise LPG prices every month in small quantum to eliminate their subsidies.

As agitated Opposition members refused to relent, Kurien adjourned the Upper House till noon.

In the Lok Sabha also, the Opposition parties protested against the BJP-led NDA government's "cruel" move, demanding its immediate withdrawal. With Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejecting their demand for seeking the government's reply, the Opposition MPs staged a walk-out from the House.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Congress MP K C Venugopal said the government is working on speedy elimination of LPG subsidies, which will hit the common people of the country.

Echoing such views, Trinamul leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said, "We protest against it. This is anti-welfare and it should be immediately withdrawn."

The issue also made waves outside Parliament. Condemning the governemnt's decision, the CPI-M Politburo alleged, "Clearly, this government is fleecing the people in order to augment its revenue collections, when the prices of petroleum products should actually decline in line with the international trend."

The Politburo demanded "immediate withdrawal of this harsh burden being imposed on the vast majority of the people of our country".