Recent steep hike of Rs 86 per non-subsidised cooking gas cylinder received sharp reactions in Lok Sabha on Friday as the Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress members walked out of the House. On the other side, the government insisted that it was a small hike and would not affect the poor.
The issue was raised during Zero Hour when Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, “The price of an LPG cylinder was Rs 466 in 2016. It was increased six times in the past two years and today is Rs 737 per cylinder.” He also questioned why the benefit of the decline in international crude oil prices was not being passed on to the people, adding that those who had given up subsidy were feeling cheated.
Speaking on the price trend of crude oil, Kharge said, “In 2012, the crude oil price in the international market was USD 122 per barrel and the LPG cylinder sold at Rs 345 while petrol and diesel cost Rs 58 and 37, respectively..In 2016, when the crude oil price was 33 USD, an LPG cylinder cost Rs 513 and petrol and diesel Rs 56 and Rs 46, respectively.”
N K Premachandran (RSP) echoed the similar view as he said the hike of Rs 271 for an LPG cylinder was “unheard of” and accused the government of not passing on the benefits of the fall in international oil price to the consumers.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, however, said it was a “small hike” adding that the prices had to be increased as LPG cost in the international market went up from $471 to $564 per tonne in the past one month, and accused Kharge of “misleading the House.”
Rebutting the opposition’s charge, Kumar said over 1.1 crore consumers have voluntarily given up their LPG subsidies on the Prime Minister’s appeal and the rest of the total 91.7 crore consumers have not been affected by the hike.
“There has been no cut in subsidy to the poor,” he said, adding the government is giving subsidy of Rs 13127 crore.
Kumar said an Empowered Group of Ministers in 2010 (UPA regime) had decided that the price of LPG would be increased by Rs 2 a month.
"The credit for the hike, therefore, goes to Mallikarjun Kharge and Manmohan Singh," he said, leading to loud protests from the Opposition benches, who walked out thereafter.