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EC opposes Centre's move to raise LPG cap

The Election Commission today took strong exception to the Centre's move to increase the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders ahead of the Gujarat elections and asked it to stop it forthwith.

The EC also sought an explanation from Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily by tomorrow morning for his announcement about raising the cap.

Taking suo moto cognizance of Moily's announcement, the Commission held an emergency meeting soon after he said the government will raise the cap on supply of subsidised cooking gas (LPG) to nine cylinders per household a year from six at present.

The EC, at its meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, shot off two separate letters to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry and the Minister.

It directed the Ministry to immediately stop the move, which came just ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections and at a time when the Model Code of Conduct is in force there, and also sought Moily's explanation on the issue.

The first phase of Gujarat poll is on December 13 and the second and final phase on December 17.

With the Model Code of Conduct in operation, the Commission in its letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said it "directs that the move for the reported increase in supply of subsidised gas cylinders, if any, must be stopped forthwith under confirmation to the Commission."

"The Commission has taken strong exception to your aforesaid announcement when the first phase of polling in the state of Gujarat is only two days away. The Commission has desired that you explain your above action at this juncture," the EC said in its letter to Moily.

The poll body asked for the Minister's explanationby 11 AM tomorrow. @Body:

The EC letter to Moily came in the wake of media reports quoting him as saying that the supply of subsidised cylinders to each household is being raised by the central government from the present level of six to nine cylinders a year.

The poll body said the election process to legislative assemblies in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh is on and the Model Code of Conduct is in operation in the two states.

Government had in September capped the supply of subsidised LPG to six cylinders per household in a year. Any additional requirement is to be bought at market price of Rs 931 per 14.2-kg bottle. Subsidised LPG costs Rs 410.50 per cylinder at present.

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