A united opposition on Monday stalled proceedings in the Rajya Sabha in the Zero Hour protesting against the government’s decision to hike the prices of domestic cooking gas (LPG) by Rs 4 per cylinder every month to eliminate all subsidies by next March.
Congress, SP, TMC, BSP and Left MPs stormed into the Well of the House shouting slogans seeking withdrawal of the decision, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to first adjourn the proceedings for 10 minutes and then till noon.
TMC member, Derek O’Brien gave a notice under rule 267 and raised the issue. He said the government was not fulfilling its social commitment to provide cooking gas at subsidised rates.
“Oil prices have come down from USD 111 per barrel to USD 48 but the government is raising rates of cooking fuel. When they make promises, why not implement it,” O’Brien asked.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said at the call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, people had voluntarily given up subsidies so that subsidised LPG can be provided to the poor and needy.
But the government has now decided to charge all the poor Rs 4 per cylinder more every month, he said. “This is strongly condemnable. The government should withdraw (the decision).”
Tapan Sen of the CPI-M, Naresh Agarwal of SP said this is a “government for profits.”
The opposition members rushed into the Well shouting slogans against the decision, forcing Kurien to adjourn the proceedings for 10 minutes.
When the House met again, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the people had voluntarily given up their subsidies in the hope that subsidised cooking gas will be given to the poor.
But the government is “killing the poor”, as within a year, the price of LPG would go up by Rs 48 per cylinder at a time when oil rates globally have slumped to a multi-year low. “This is not acceptable,” he said.
Clarifying the decision, Pradhan said the move flowed from a June 2010 decision under the previous UPA government to raise prices every month in small quantum to completely eliminate subsidies.
He read out from a document that listed the decision and those who endorsed it.
Pradhan said the BJP-led government has in the last three years raised the LPG connections from 14 crore to 21 crore and given as many as 2.6 crore free connections to poor women household members.
“Subsidy won’t be cut down, it will only be rationalized. Uproar baseless,” said Dharmendra Pradhan.
The Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan informed Lok Sabha on Monday that government has ordered state-run oil companies to raise subsidised cooking gas (LPG) prices by Rs 4 per cylinder every month to eliminate all the subsidies by March next year.