Congress-ruled states to supply 9 subsidised LPG cylinders

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New Delhi, Sep 19: In what can be seen as a partial rejection of the reforms initiated recently, the Congress has decided to supply nine subsidised LPG cylinders in states ruled by it.

Last week, the Manmohan Singh-led government had made it clear that a consumer shall only be given six subsidised cylinders each year and those who require more will have to buy each additional LPG refill at the market rate.

Incidentally, a subsidised cylinder is available for around Rs 400 but the prevailing market price of a LPG refill is over Rs 700.

While the opposition predictably dubbed the above move as an "anti-people" one, even some constituents of the ruling coalition demanded a rethink. In fact, one of the main reasons why the Trinamool Congress walked out of the UPA yesterday was the arbitrary cap on the number of LPG cylinders.

The Samajwadi Party nor the BSP, which are both supporting the government from outside, are also not in favour of it. Seeing that the party was isolated on this issue, the Congress high command realised belatedly that there is no sense in continuing with the unpopular measure.

First came the announcement that residents of Delhi where the party is in power will get three extra subsidised cylinders under a special scheme. Today the other Congress-ruled states were ordered to follow Delhi's example.

"Sonia Gandhi has asked Congress Chief Ministers that now the government's decision of subsidising six cylinders should be increased to nine. Now nine cylinders will be given at subsidised prices," the party's spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.

The interesting aspect is that if all states start supplying extra subsidised cylinders, then the policy implemented by the Centre recently will be rendered totally irrelevant. However, the Congress does not seem to be too worried about such a scenario.

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