LPG price cut: PM Modi plays 'nari shakti' card; opposition calls it poll-'jumla'

This is the second reduction in cooking gas prices in six months

lpg cylinder Representational image | PTI

Weeks ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the cut in the price of LPG cylinders, which was announced today by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Women's Day, has sparked off a war of words, with the opposition calling it a 'jumla'.

Modi, on Friday, announced a Rs 100 per cylinder cut to “ease financial burden on households”. Non-subsidised cooking gas price will be cut to Rs 803 per 14.2-kg cylinder in Delhi with effect from midnight of Friday/Saturday, PTI said. Prices will vary from state to state depending on the local taxes.

This is the second reduction in cooking gas prices in six months. Rates were cut by Rs 200 per cylinder in late August ahead of assembly elections in five states, including Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The revision had then brought down the prices from a nine-year high of Rs 1,103 per 14.2-kg cylinder to Rs 903.

Taking a jibe at PM Modi's announcement weeks ahead of the general elections, Nationalist Congress Party (SPawar) MP Supriya Sule told ANI, “I am not surprised at all. Look at the timing. They have been in power for the last 9 years. Why didn't they think of this earlier? Just when the election, I mean it will probably be announced in the next 5 or 6 days, 'yeh aur ek jumla hai' (it's just another false promise).... It's all political.”

The reduction has been made possible because of easing of international oil and gas prices, against which domestic fuel rates are benchmarked. However, no change in petrol and diesel prices was announced. Petrol and diesel prices continue to be on freeze for a record 23 months now.

"In our government, the cylinder was Rs 430. Why don't they match it?," Sule said.

Congress MP Manickam Tagore, too, took to X to slam the move just ahead of the polls. "On #WomensDay, Modi's Jumla: LPG price slashed by Rs. 100! Now it's Rs. 823... Just a little flashback: In 2014, Dr Singh (Manmohan Singh) gave a subsidy of Rs 600 and the price was 641 Rs."

How it will benefit Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries

For the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), who get Rs 300 per cylinder subsidy, a 14.2-kg LPG cylinder will now cost Rs 503 in the national capital.

The Union Cabinet headed by the prime minister had on Thursday approved extension of Rs 300 per LPG cylinder subsidy to Ujjwala Yojana for another one year to March 2025.

The government had in October last year hiked the subsidy from Rs 200 per 14.2-kg cylinder for up to 12 refills per year to Rs 300 per bottle. The Rs 300 per cylinder subsidy was for the current fiscal, which ends on March 31. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday decided to extend this subsidy to 2024-25.

That move, which is likely to benefit nearly 10 crore families, will cost the government Rs 12,000 crore.

Cooking gas prices had shot up in the last couple of years and had become a major election issue. Rates went up by Rs 294 per 14.2-kg cylinder between July 2021 and August 2023.

The opposition Congress party used the high LPG prices, which had burnt a hole in the budgets of households already reeling under high inflation, effectively in the 2023 assembly elections in Karnataka.

It has promised to give LPG at Rs 500 per cylinder if voted to power in Madhya Pradesh in November/December assembly elections, forcing Modi's BJP to also promise cooking gas at the same rate.

While Ujjwala beneficiaries are about 10 crore, there are over 33 crore domestic cooking gas users in the country.

The government in June 2020 stopped giving LPG subsidies. Cooking gas across the country was priced at market rate, which rose to Rs 1,103 in the national capital in August 2023.

(With PTI inputs)

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp