Following stiff opposition from her own party MLAs, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was today forced to withdraw the budget proposal to levy five per cent VAT on CNG within a week of her announcing the move.
The price of CNG, which fuels public transport in the city, will remain at Rs 35.45 per kg while the price of petrol will come down by 92 paisa per litre from current Rs 71.16 as per the budgetary proposals passed by the assembly.
The withdrawal of VAT on CNG came following strong opposition from a section of Congress MLAs who argued any increase in the price of the fuel will result in hike in taxi and auto fares which will have a negative effect on the party ahead of next year's assembly polls.
Replying to the debate on the budget, Dikshit also withdrew the proposal to levy five per cent VAT on textiles costing above Rs 300 per meter, garment set priced above Rs 600 and sarees costing above Rs 1,000 to "protect" the textile industry in the city.
Explaining the decision to revoke the decision to withdraw VAT on CNG, Dikshit cited the "anger" of the MLAs and the demand of the common man.
"You (Congress MLAs) have expressed your anger. We are sitting here (assembly) because of the people of Delhi. If they demand something, we will have to listen to them. People are reeling under price rise also," the Chief Minister, who had earlier ruled out roll back of VAT on CNG, said.
VAT would have pushed up the CNG price to Rs 37.20 per kg from the current Rs 35.45 per kg, a rise of Rs 1.77. Asked when VAT reduction on hiked component of petrol will come into effect, Dikshit said goverment will issue a notification in a day or two, which would bring down petrol price to Rs 70.24 from current Rs 71.16. The decision to withdraw VAT on CNG and costly garments was taken at a cabinet meeting in which a number of ministers also apparently opposed imposition of the tax on the fuel.
Demanding immediate roll back of VAT on CNG, Delhi BJP has called for 'Delhi bandh' on Thursday to protest against spiralling price rise, including of petrol, and VAT on CNG.
A number of auto-rickshaw unions called a protest on Thursday demanding hike in fares.
The assembly passed the Rs 33,436 crore budget for the year in the absence of BJP MLAs who were suspended from the House for three days on Thursday for creating ruckus.
Dikshit expressed disappointment over the absence of BJP
MLAs during the debate on the budget, saying they have a habit of avoiding important debates.
"The budget proposals were made to make Delhi a world-class city. On implementation of the budget proposals, Delhi will become a friendly and model city," she said, noting government has announced a number of schemes to improve the life of the poor and downtrodden.
"We have allocated 65 per cent of the plan outlay for social sector schemes. We have carried out lot of infrastructure development in the run up to the Commonwealth Games. Now, we want to focus on the social sector," she said.
Describing the budget as "people-centric" and "development-oriented", she said it has been made keeping in view "humanistic approach" aiming to make Delhi a "friendly, caring and modern city."