Those calling us ‘suit boot sarkar’ raised gas price to $9: Pradhan

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New Delhi: Taking a dig on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his “suit-boot sarkar” remark about the NDA, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan yesterday said the previous UPA administration had approved a natural gas price of $9 without bothering about its impact on the common man.

“Now, this friend of mine(Rahul Gandhi), who has just returned from a holiday, calls my government a ‘suit-boot’ government. But it was their government which had approved a price of more than $9 on NCV (net calorific value) basis without looking into purchasing capacity of the country,” the minister said at a roundtable here on hydrocarbons organised by industry chamber FICCI.

“If my friend’s (Rahul Gandhi) order would have been executed, the price on NCV would have been over $9 against imported LNG being available at $7-8. And they are accusing us of being a suit-boot government,” he added.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Gandhi had criticised the Modi government of being anti-farmer and pro-industrialist while describing it as a “suit-boot sarkar”.

The UPA government had accepted the recommendations of the Rangarajan panel and approved more than doubling of the domestic natural gas price for producers to $8.4 per million British thermal unit from $4.2.

The NDA government ordered a relook and in October announced a new price of $5.61 per mmBtu effective from November for five months. The price has further fallen to $5.17 this month in step with global trends, Pradhan said.

“The gas pricing formula we evolved balances the wellhead gas price expectations with end users capacity to pay,” he said.

The minister said the arms-length discovered price of gas from the eastern offshore KG basin block of Reliance Industries $2.34 per mmBtu but it was abandoned for $4.2 per mmBtu rate, fixed for the first five years of production beginning April 2009.

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