India's Rahul Gandhi demands higher subsidy on cooking gas

NEW DELHI Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:43am EST

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NEW DELHI Jan 17 (Reuters) - India's Rahul Gandhi on Friday demanded raising the ceiling on subsidised cooking gas cylinders, continuing a populist streak as he leads the ruling Congress party into a tough national election due by May.

The Congress party vice president asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to increase the cap on annual sales of subsidised cooking gas cylinders to 12 from 9 per household.

"There is another thing which the entire country, especially women are concerned, that is nine (gas) cylinders aren't enough, we need 12 cylinders," he said.

The demand, if accepted, will further strain federal finances which are under pressure in the face of weak tax receipts in a slowdown-hit economy and rising public expenditure.

India's state-run companies reported a loss of 186 billion rupees ($3.02 billion) on selling cooking gas cylinders below market price in the first half of the current fiscal year that ends in March.

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