A united opposition today stalled the pre-noon proceedings in the Rajya Sabha 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. The issue was raised by Derek O’Brien (TMC) who gave a notice under rule 267 that seeks to set aside the business of the day to discuss an important 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, he said. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had yesterday told Lok Sabha that the government has doubled the monthly increase in LPG price to Rs 4 per cylinder from July 1 with a view to eliminating all subsidies by March 2018.
“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. A government should withdraw (the decision).” Tapan Sen (CPI-M) said people are being “cheated”. Naresh Agarwal (SP) said this is a “government for profits.” Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the notice under rule 267 was being disallowed but a short duration debate can be permitted if a notice is given. 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 crores to 21 crores and given as many as 2.6 crore free connections to poor women household members.
Pradhan said the BJP-led government has in the last three years raised the LPG connections from 14 crores to 21 crores and given as many as 2.6 crore free connections to poor women household members. Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said when Parliament was in session, the decision should not have been announced outside. Slogan-shouting members trooped into the Well raising slogans. The minister made his submission amid slogan shouting. As members refused to relent and return to their seats, Kurien adjourned the proceedings till 1200 hours.