In its current mode of wooing the middle class, the UPA government is all set to increase the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders from six per annum per family to 9.
"The decision would have been implemented immediately, but in deference to the model of code of conduct that is in force in Gujarat, it has been put off," sources said.
It is learnt that the issue was discussed with the Election Commission officials, and following their advice the decision has been put off till the polls in Gujarat due on December 13th, and 17th.
There is a strong realisation that the decision to impose this cap has not gone down well with the people in general as it hurts most of the estimated 14 crore families with domestic LPG connections. Indeed, it was this realisation that had prompted Congress president Sonia Gandhi to direct the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to increase the cap from 6 to 9.
But even this is not considered adequate as bulk of the families need a minimum of one clyinder per month.
"It is to meet the aspirations of this class, that it has been decided to increase the cap to 9 at the level of the central government, so that at least in the Congress-ruled states, the total number of subsidized cylinders available per family goes to 12 per year," the source said.
It is learnt that the initial recommendation at the time of imposing the cap was to put it at 8, but enthusiastic officials in the petroleum ministry brought it down to 6.
The Congress party hopes that the government’s need to control the subsidy bill on LPG can be met through direct cash transfer which is likely to be introduced at a later stage.
Even union finance minister P Chidambaram has emphasised that the government is not in a mood to reduce the subsidy on LPG cylinders, but it aims at better channelisation and wants to plug the leakages.