Minister against more than six cylinders for taxpayers

Even as the Centre is contemplating a partial rollback of the decision to cut subsidy on LPG, by increasing the number of subsidised cylinders per household per year from six to ten, the Maharashtra government has written to the Central government that the benefit should only be extended to Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh told Newsline that he had written to the Union government that no subsidy should be extended to taxpayers.

"The subsidy should be extended to only poor people. Taxpayers should not be given the subsidy. With the decision to increase the prices by the Union government, the benefits should be extended to the poorest of the poor," he said.

Deshmukh said he wrote that the poor should get only subsidised cylinders all through the year.

With the BJP and Shiv Sena campaigning against the government and Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar having convened a meeting of party ministers on September 21, the minister said he firmly believed that "taxpayers should bear the costs and not let the poor suffer".

While the current price of a household LPG cylinder is Rs 430, the cut in subsidy will take the cost up to around Rs 750. BJP and Shiv Sena are campaigning against the increase and want to have more subsidised cylinders for the middle class in a year. BJP members said it was not justified to increase the prices.

On the other hand, the government employees' associations have been protesting every day since the announcement.

"There is no respite for the working class. With such exorbitant costs, what does the Union government want to prove," asks K J Shinde, a member of the association. Calling it "total mismanagement of the economy", another member Sudhir Joshi said they would go on a fast to protest the decision.

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