CM Chouhan’s meal video fuels Cong dart on ‘missing’ LPG cylinder. BJP responds
BHOPAL/SATNA: A video put out by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Chouhan of a stopover at a Dalit household in the middle of his campaigning for the bye-elections in Raigaon, over 400km from state capital Bhopal, provoked barbs from his critics on and off social media. They spotted that there was no LPG cylinder around, and the chief minister’s host cooked his meal on a clay stove using traditional fuel.
Where is the LPG cylinder given under the Ujjwala scheme, the opposition asked after chief minister Chouhan put out photographs and videos of his stopover, his outreach to the Dalit community ahead of bye-elections to four constituencies; one Lok Sabha seat and three Assembly segments.
The Congress, which is in a straight contest with the BJP on the four seats, said the poor could not afford to use LPG cylinders received under the Ujjwala scheme because it was too expensive.
LPG rates, last hiked on October 6, have gone up by ₹90 per 14.2-kg cylinder since July. A subsidised cylinder for poor households that got free connections under the Ujjwala scheme in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district’s Raigaon, where Chouhan stopped for a meal, costs ₹925.5.
Congress lawmaker and former minister PC Sharma said: “The chief minister himself exposed that people stopped using gas stoves provided under Ujjawala Scheme due to rise in the price of LPG. The state government’s scheme is not meant for the poor. In Bhind, people are selling the cylinders to ragman.”
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, insisted that Chouhan’s host, Basanti Kol, didn’t use her LPG cylinder for Chouhan’s meal because traditional cuisines taste better when cooked on a clay stove.
“Some traditional cuisines taste well when cooked on the earthen stove and that’s why Basanti Kol used it but it doesn’t mean, she doesn’t have an LPG. She has an LPG and used to cook daily food,” said Rajneesh Agrawal, BJP spokesperson.
Agarwal added that it was similar to people going for a candlelight dinner. It doesn’t mean that there was a power cut, he said.
To be sure, official data does indicate that active domestic LPG connections of state-run oil marketing companies have increased by 78% between April 2015 and April 2021. Domestic LPG consumption, however, went up by just 53.3% between 2014-15 and 2020-21, suggesting that Ujjwala beneficiaries might be using their LPG cylinders to complement rather than substitute their erstwhile methods of using unclean fuel for cooking.
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