The Election Commission on Monday asked the central government to defer its notification increasing natural gas prices from April 1 after Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal made it a poll issue. HT on Monday reported that the EC would be issuing such a directive.
In a communication sent to the government, principal secretary in the commission K Ajaya Kumar said that taking into account relevant facts, including that the matter was sub-judice, the commission decided that the proposal may be deferred. A couple of public interest litigations have been filed in the Supreme Court against the government’s decision to double gas prices from April 1.
The commission's decision came after the government sought permission from the poll watchdog to go ahead with its notification to hike domestic gas procurement prices on which Kejriwal had sought deferment. Kejriwal had said the government’s decision was a violation of the model code of conduct.
Not agreeing with Kejriwal fully, the EC took the view that it would make no difference if the notification was deferred till the election process got over by the end of May. The commission also felt that implementing the notification could amount to violation of the model code as it could disturb the electoral level playing field.
Stating that the relief from the EC was only for two months, Kejriwal tweeted that after the elections if the Congress comes to power, the gas price would be $8, if BJP comes to power it would be $16 and AAP wants it to be $4. “Both Modi and Rahul Gandhi support high gas prices for (Mukesh) Ambani. Only AAP has the courage to directly confront Ambani,” Kejriwal said in another tweet.
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited, which has a major stake in gas exploration in India, said the increase in gas pricing was part of a formula approved by the Union cabinet. The cabinet approval was on the basis of a formula devised by the Rangarajan committee, the company said in a statement without referring to the EC’s directive.