New Delhi, July 17: While various Congress leaders continue to attack Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the 'communal-secular' debate, the UPA government has decided to launch the next phase of cash to people for cooking gas cylinders in Modi's home district Mehsana. Political observers see this as a clever response to blunt the BJP's attack against the direct benefits transfer plan, which it feels is a poll gimmick.
The Indian Oil Corporation, which owns the only gas agency in Modi's hometown Vadnagar, is making efforts to roll out the scheme. The Congress believes that the scheme will give a tough competition to the Gujarat CM's project of supplying piped natural gas to homes. The prices of piped gas have increased sharply in recent months, making it more expensive than cooking gas cylinders, particularly in a state which banks heavily on costly LNG.
The Election Commission had asked the Centre to postpone the scheme's implementation last December, in view of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections. The BJP had opposed the plan, saying it could influence the poll results.
Now, the Congress-led UPA is all ready to launch the battle in a fresh mind. Direct cash transfers will be made to LPG customers in Mehsana, Bhavnagar, Valsad and Anand districts in October this year and 2.3 million people are already being provided with Rs 435 in their bank accounts to buy the gas cylinders, said a report. The Congress has termed the project as a huge success.