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On Didi cue, Congress may lessen LPG blow

delhi Updated: Jun 26, 2011 00:40 IST
HT Correspondent

Newly-elected West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee withdrew the sales tax on cooking gas cylinders, bringing down the price by Rs 16, a day after the central government announced a steep Rs 50 hike.

Banerjee had slammed the Centre for hiking the prices of cooking gas, diesel and kerosene on Friday.

Mamata's relief to her 'ma, maati, maanush' constituency was immediately followed by the Congress telling its chief ministers to go the same way to give some relief to the aam aadmi.

The government's decision on Friday to increase the prices of diesel by Rs 3 per litre, domestic LPG by Rs 50 per cylinder and kerosene by Rs 2 per litre was sharply criticised not only by the BJP and the Left parties but also its own allies, the Trinamool Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.

"I am pained at such a decision by the Centre," Banerjee said, even though her government - already dealing with an empty treasury - will lose Rs 75 crore this year.

She said this would be made up by "other sources of income".

On its part, the Congress defended the Centre's decision to hike fuel prices.

"There are times when you are compelled to take hard decisions. But if you see all the facts, you will realise that there was no other option," party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

He, however, hailed the UPA's decision to reduce custom and excise duty on petroleum products - and said that other states, ruled by the opposition, could do the same.