Rahul Gandhi on Friday virtually sought to deny the Modi government credit for setting up of the permanent campus of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (RGIPT) in Amethi, which will be inaugurated on Saturday, saying a law for it was enacted when the UPA was in power. Three Union ministers — Smriti Irani, Prakash Javdekar and Dharmendra Pradhan — will be present at the function in Amethi’s Jais area on Saturday.
In a letter to Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who had written to Rahul on October 17 inviting him for the event, the Congress vice-president suggested that he could have attended the inaugural function if it was being held on a “mutually convenient” date. “I would have certainly liked to have attended the inaugural function had it been planned and scheduled on a mutually convenient date. I do look forward to visiting the new campus once classes commence,” he wrote.
He also reminded Pradhan that it was the UPA government which had enacted the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology Act-2007 to make RGIPT an institute of national importance in the field of petroleum technology and allied energy sectors with significant budgetary support. He said he has been personally visiting the permanent campus as it was coming up at Jais since 2008. Rahul also said that he is happy that “this historical effort of ours is moving forward”.
He, however, went on to tell Pradhan that a number of development works have been pending in Amethi and sought his help in expediting their completion. “I would, however, like to bring to your notice that a number of other major development initiatives in Amethi, which had either been legislated or had received Cabinet approval have not progressed during the current NDA government… I do hope that as a member of the council of ministers, you will urge your Cabinet colleagues to expedite the completion of these important projects as well,” he wrote.
Rahul listed out Jagdishpur Paper Mill, Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University, National Automative Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project, Institute of Driving, Training and Research and Kendriya Vidyalaya, as some projects that were pending. The foundation stone for RGIPT’s Amethi campus was laid by Congress president Sonia Gandhi during in 2010. Since 2008, RGIPT’s temporary campus had been running in Sonia’s constituency of Rae Bareli.
Local BJP leaders, meanwhile, are projecting the campus as an achievement of the Modi government. Party district vice-president Govind Singh Chauhan said work on the campus had stopped in 2013 due to shortage of funds. “It restarted when the Modi government came to power and funds were released,” he said. BJP workers have put up banners and posters giving credit to the Union government for completing the project. Congress leaders, however, rubbished BJP’s claims.
“Rahul ji has made it clear in his letter to Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan that the work on the institute has been going on since 2008 and he has been regularly visiting the construction site. The allegation that work was stopped is baseless… It was a long-term project as the infrastructure is large. We had to acquire land, which was finally given by the UP government. While the contractor changed, work never stopped. Work has been regularly going on since 2008,” said Chandrakant Dubey, Rahul’s representative in Amethi.
RGIPT corporate communication officer Jitendra Prasad added: “Work was stopped for a while because of the fault of the contractor, who was not able to mobilise funds. But work resumed in 2013…” The institute runs various courses in petroleum and chemical engineering, including BTech, MTech and also MBA in energy management. The new campus, worth Rs 538 crore, has been developed on 45 acres in Jais area of Amethi.