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Dec 12, 2012 at 10:55am IST

EC warns govt not to raise LPG cap before Gujarat polls

New Delhi: The Election Commission has served a notice to Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily for announcing that the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders could be raised from six to nine. EC says this is a violation of the model code of conduct as the announcement comes barely 24 hours ahead of the first phase of polling in Gujarat.

Moments after Moily spilled the beans on the government's plan to raise the LPG cap from six to nine cylinders soon, the Elections Commission served him a notice for violation of poll conduct. This is the second notice from the Election Commission to the government with the last being over direct cash transfers. The government was told by the EC to put the cash transfer on hold till Gujarat polls were over.

But Moily's announcement is seen as a well thought out strategy. Feedback within the party has revealed fierce voter anger against this decision of the UPA and the Congress was waiting for a right time to increase the cap. The Congress core group and the cabinet is expected to take a decision on this soon and the announcement could come any time after the polls are over.

But Moily's timed declaration has angered the Opposition. However, the divide within the government over when and how to increase the cap remains. Government sources say that both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister are worried as to how to foot the subsidy bill in case the cap is raised. In fact this was what was asked by the Finance Minister to Moily.

It's a tight rope walk for the government. Political compulsions say that cap should be raised at least before the next round of Assembly polls in 2013. But economic demands reason out a cut in subsidies.