New Delhi, Oct 11 (UNI) The BJP high command today endorsed its Punjab State unit's stand that increased 8.4 per cent cess on electricity be borne by the state government as it did by compensating 12 per cent hiked cess on agriculture recently.
The high command put its seal of approval on the Punjab BJP's demand after BJP President Rajnath Singh and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani held a meeting with five Punjab ministers, including Manranjan Kalia, Laxmi Kanta and Sawarna Ram, who called on them this evening.
The BJP is the coalition partner in the Parkash Singh Badal-led government in Punjab and has been opposing the hike in cess uniformally for domestic, commerical and industrial consumers of the state.
Briefing mediapersons after the meeting with the top BJP leadership, the party's Punjab unit president Rajinder Bhandari said they would continue to press their demand with the Punjab government.
'' We will continue to give the same repect and honour to Mr Badal who is our esteemed leader...however, we will raise the electricity cess hike issue and also get full support from the High Command in this respect'', Mr Bhandari added.
Explaining their demand, Mr Bhandari said, '' the hike would put a heavy burden on consumers.. why not consumers other than those belonging to the agriculture sector be compensated by the government''.
However, BJP leaders from Punjab admitted that the increased power cess would hardly affect urban consumers since the agriculture sector was getting free power supply and Dalits were availing concessions in electricity bills.
'' Why should consumers, mostly from the urban areas be forced to bear the burden of power concessions given to the farming sector and other areas?'', they asked.
The Punjab BJP wanted to nurture its base and constituency, mainly consisting of urban voters, by availing some concessions for urban power consumers also. The Akalis, on the other hand, already served their rural base by getting the raised power cess compensated from the government treasury.
However, Mr Bhandari did not formally say anything about the rural-urban divide and insisted that the BJP had been apprised of all the developments in Punjab and had given the green signal for the Punjab Unit's demand.
The Punjab BJP ministers were accompanied by Balbir Punj, BJP's Central leader and incharge of the state unit.
Mr Badal had met the BJP high command in Delhi a few days back and reportedly discussed the power cess increase issue.