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Govt hurried on gas pricing so that RIL could ‘help with election expenses’: FIR

The FIR, with the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch, was registered on Tuesday night

New Delhi |
Updated: February 13, 2014 6:19:27 am

The FIR into the alleged nexus between Reliance Industries (RIL) and Union ministers says that the move to increase natural gas prices was made, keeping the “upcoming national elections” in mind. The complaint also questions if there is a nexus between political parties and corporate funding during elections. 

The FIR, with the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch, was registered on Tuesday night at the urging of the Delhi government based on a complaint by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, former expenditure secretary EAS Sarma, retired admiral RH Tahiliani and advocate Kamini Jaiswal.

The complainants have named petroleum minister Veerappa Moily, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani, former minister Murli Deora and former director general of Hydrocarbons VK Sibal in a long-running controversy over alleged irregularities in the pricing of natural gas from KG Basin. The FIR is registered under Sections 420, 120 B and 13 (1)(c)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Claiming that the government and RIL had colluded to double the gas prices to $8 per million British thermal unit (mBtu) from April 1, 2014, the FIR states, “Since the decision to operate from 1.4.2014, which is around the time the term of the present government expires, the government ought to have left the decision to the new government, since it involves serious considerations, inflationary consequences, and a massive increase in subsidy burden.

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The fact that this decision was taken in advance by the present government shows that it wanted to favour RIL for corrupt considerations, which would then help with the expenditure for the upcoming national elections. This is also the reason why the main Opposition party, the BJP, is silent on the issue, as during election time when huge slush of funds is required by the major parties, no one is willing to speak against this decision, even though price rise is normally an important political issue.”

On Tuesday, Moily had hit-back at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal saying gas prices were fixed on the advice of experts. “I think I should sympathise with his ignorance. He should know how the government functions, how these things are done. You should know that I took special interest to ensure that CNG and PNG prices were reduced,” Moily said. RIL had said that the Delhi government decision was shocking. “The complaint and each of the allegations on the basis of which the Delhi government has taken such action are completely baseless and devoid of any merit or substance whatsoever,” it said.

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