The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rollback debut with gas price

New Delhi, Nov. 24: Manmohan Singh's government opened its rollback account today by scrapping the decision to raise cooking gas price by Rs 5 a cylinder every month.

By reviewing the price rise under pressure from the Left and Bihar ally Laloo Prasad Yadav, the United Progressive Alliance proved rollback-worthy of its predecessor, in which Yashwant Sinha as finance minister had to take one step forward and one step back several times.

He came to be known as Rollback Sinha, a label to which ' however reluctantly ' Mani Shankar Aiyar, as petroleum minister, has staked first claim in this government by announcing the gas price rewind.

'It has been decided by the cabinet committee on economic affairs that the previous decision to raise LPG price by Rs 5 every month stands rescinded,' Aiyar said.

On November 4, along with a Rs 20 rise in the cooking gas price, it was announced that every month there will be a hike of Rs 5 to reduce the subsidy which had shot up to Rs 158 a cylinder in the wake of soaring international prices.

The Left had been demanding a review ever since the rise was announced but the government had stonewalled. Today, however, the response was prompt.

In the morning, Left leaders again pressed their case at a meeting of the ruling alliance's coordination committee and by evening the announcement was made.

Aiyar refused to disclose the reasons for the review. He simply said all other decisions of the cabinet committee, taken on November 4, would stand.

This means the diesel price, raised along with that of gas, remains untouched, leaving the Left unsatiated.

'The government has considered our demand. But it would have been better had they reduced diesel price also. The government would have to consider that,' said CPI leader D. Raja.

It seems some other demands of the Left were not addressed either, one being the restoration of the provident fund interest rate to 9.5 per cent.

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