Petroleum minister Veerappa Moily was reprimanded by the Election Commission for announcing that the government was mulling over hiking the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders from six to nine in a year.
The commission “strongly disapproved” of his comments on Tuesday, in view of the oncoming elections in Gujarat, and described his behaviour as a complete violation of the model code of conduct.
Moily had earlier told the commission that the announcement was his ministry’s response to a demand that was long reiterated by various political parties. “It was… in response to media queries on the sidelines of a function… the same should not be treated as an announcement regarding a government decision,” he said.
The petroleum minister’s claim was taken as an admission by the commission, which said that his announcement amounted to a declaration concerning increased subsidy. It was a clear violation of the model code of conduct, it added.
The EC also said that such a statement would have an impact on the minds of voters in Gujarat, where the polls are slated to happen on Thursday and next Monday. The commission has already told the government to refrain from implementing any decision on subsidised LPG cylinders until the completion of the poll process in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
The poll body has said that Part VII of the Model Code of Conduct, which is in force now, specifically states that the party concerned shall ensure that there is no cause for complaint that it has used its position to further the election campaign.
It further states that ministers and government officials should not announce financial grants in any form, or make any promises of the kind.