In a move aimed at providing much-needed relief to households grappling with the rising cost of living, the Union government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a significant reduction in the prices of 14 kg LPG gas cylinders. The reduction of Rs 200 per cylinder was revealed by Union Minister Anurag Thakur during a press briefing on Tuesday, accompanied by the announcement of an extension to the Ujjwala scheme, which will provide 75 lakh new LPG connections for free. The reduction in LPG prices has been hailed as a gesture towards the women of the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Beyond its symbolic value during the auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan, it directly tackles broader economic worries. Notably, the beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, already receiving a Rs 200 subsidy, stand to benefit further with an effective rate reduction of Rs 400 per cylinder. This nuanced approach reflects the government’s intention to cater to a diverse demographic spectrum. The backdrop of earlier LPG price hikes, including two increments in May and an additional Rs 50 in July, underscores the financial pressure faced by households. The government’s response is multi-faceted, and strategically aimed at easing the burden of inflation on living costs, particularly in the lead-up to key elections in various states and the Lok Sabha in the following year. This dual-pronged approach aims to provide both immediate relief and serve broader political objectives. Moreover, the expansion of the Ujjwala scheme, which will offer 75 lakh new free LPG connections, reaffirms the government’s commitment to socio-economic development. This move will raise the tally of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to 10.35 crore, underscoring a dedicated effort to elevate the quality of life for a substantial demographic. In alignment with this initiative, Prime Minister Modi’s description of the action as a gift to millions of women reinforces the government’s determination to enhance the lives of citizens, particularly those belonging to marginalized and middle-class sections. Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s assertion that the reduction in cooking gas prices not only offers direct relief to families but also contributes to the overarching objective of affordable access to essentials adds depth to this decision’s multi-dimensional nature. Currently, domestic LPG cylinder prices stand at Rs 1,053 in Delhi, Rs 1,052.50 in Mumbai, Rs 1,068.50 in Chennai, and Rs 1,079 in Kolkata. The strategic element of this move becomes apparent when considering its synchronization with upcoming Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Mizoram, as well as the culmination of the Narendra Modi administration’s tenure next year. Gas subsidies were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and gas cylinder prices were subsequently increased. However, as the 2024 general elections approach, these subsidies have been reinstated. This begs the question: is this truly a festive gift, or a strategic move to garner more votes in the forthcoming elections?
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