BJP today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to come clear on India Against Corruption’s charge about his government’s ties with Reliance and the reasons behind S Jaipal Reddy’s removal from the Petroleum Ministry.
Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh issued a statement even as Kejriwal and his IAC colleagues were holding their press conference. Interestingly,Singh raised virtually the same questions- on change of Reddy’s portfolio and the alleged role of Reliance Industries in it- which were flagged by Kejriwal.
“Why has the minister in the ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas been changed? Is it any malfunction in the ministry that has persuaded Manmohan Singh to effect this change? Or is it that Jaipal Reddy was not found as a ‘convenient minister’ or is this yet another example of corporate interests taking precedence over national good?” Singh said in his statement.
Singh maintained the change in Reddy’s portfolio-he has been moved to the Science and Technology Ministry in Sunday’s cabinet reshuffle- cannot be treated as “effected either for greater efficiency of the ministry or for the welfare of citizens of India or for national good”.
BJP also wanted to know why after the Supreme Court gave the government full authority to fix gas prices in national interest the government took no steps.
“Which is why the PM must explain,he has a duty to,and we have a right to know,” Singh said.
BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said all the charges levelled by Kejriwal should be answered by the government and the Prime Minister and it should bring the facts into public domain.
Rudy said the issues raised by Kejriwal today have been mentioned in the CAG report earlier and the activist has picked them from there.
“In Parliament,Murli Manohar Joshi has raised these points related to Reliance and the matter is also being examined by the Public Accounts Committee,” Rudy said.
BJP also maintained the representation by Kejriwal as if NDA,which gave the contract for exploration of KG Basin in 2003-04,was a mistake is “wrong”.
“It should be kept in mind that NDA gave the contract for$2.2 per unit of gas for 17 years,” Rudy said.
Kejriwal alleged Reliance tried to influence the UPA government to increase this to $14.2 per unit of gas.
BJP said government should clear the air on the charge of loss of Rs 65,000 crore in this deal as RIL wanted to increase the price by $10 per unit.
Rudy downplayed the taped conversation between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and former Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya which was played by Kejriwal in his press conference.
“It is a private conversation. I find no reason to refer to it and would not like to quote it,” Rudy said.
In his statement,Jaswant Singh dwelt at length on the “points of contention” between the Petroleum Ministry and RIL.
“The question is ought the amount of cost recovery due to shortfall in production in 2011-12 be permitted?” Singh said. He also asked if an additional penalty of $ 1 billion be imposed on RIL as production of gas has further declined in the current year as was done by Reddy in 2011-12.
“Why is the company resisting comprehensive audit by the CAG and is the government now going to dilute the earlier stand that the CAG audit is not required?” Singh said.