Mahrashtra govt to roll back tax on domestic LPG cylinders

Bowing to pressure from the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine, the Maharashtra government has agreed to withdraw the Rs22 hike on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Finance minister Ajit Pawar on Monday had announced a 5-per cent tax on LPG cylinders for domestic use, which worked out to a hike of Rs22 per cylinder, in the state budget.

Yesterday, a Congress delegation, led by state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and pressed for withdrawal of the hike as it was not justified.

Chavan promised to take up the matter with the finance minister. A Congress leader said the party would not accept a partial rollback and the hike would have to be fully rolled back.

Pawar had indicated that the government may positively consider the demand of the ruling parties for withdrawing the hike on cooking gas.
State NCP chief Madhukar Picchad held a meeting yesterday to discuss the political ramifications of accepting the LPG price hike. Senior cabinet ministers suggested that the party would need to take the same stand as the Congress to ensure it was not perceived as an ''anti-people party'', after which the NCP got a resolution passed against the price hike.

According to analysts only a day after he proposed an increase in the tax on LPG for domestic use, in his second budget speech, Pawar could be forced to roll back the levy. He is expected to make an announcent on the floor of the house tomorrow.

The Shiv Sena and BJP too took on the government on the hike, launching an attack on it for its anti-poor announcements in the budget. A delegation led by Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray met chief minister Chavan and warned him of a protest if the hike was not taken back.

Thackeray said outside the Vidhan Bhavan that the Sena was always ready to stage an agitation in the interest of the common man and it would do so this time too if the need arose