The Election Commission today strongly disapproved Oil Minister Veerappa Moily's announcement of increasing the cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders from six to nine, saying the statement was a violation of the poll code in "letter and spirit".
The panel also asked the minister to be circumspect in future.
The first phase of voting for the Assembly polls in Gujarat begins tomorrow, due to which the moral code of conduct is in effect.
The Election Commission had yesterday reprimanded the minister for violating the model code of conduct by sharing a decision that could influence voters. Earlier today, Mr Moily sent an explanation to the Commission about why he made the announcement. (Read full reply)
The Commission held an emergency meeting and ordered the government not to implement any new decisions till elections are completed.
In his response sent today, the minister stated: “There has been widespread demand from all sections of society particularly women, including political parties cutting across party lines, both inside and outside Parliament to increase the cap in supply of domestic LPG cylinders...the government is yet to take a decision on the matter. As such my response to media queries explained above should not be treated as an announcement regarding the decision of the government.”
In September, in an attempt to reign in massive subsidy bills, the government said that families would get six subsidized cooking gas cylinders a year. The reform was among three new policies that led to Mamata Banerjee exiting the Prime Minister’s coalition, leaving the government in a minority.
The move has upset not just the opposition but the Prime Minister’s Congress party as well, with many leaders pointing out that the new policy, likely to upset voters, comes just as important states are choosing their next government.