Most of the oil is imported by PSUs and Moily is their boss, says former Minister Ram Naik
The assertion by Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily that oil import lobbies were threatening successive Petroleum Ministers not only took everyone by surprise but also drew strong political reactions.
“Mr. Moily has made it clear that he was working to benefit corporates, especially Reliance Industries Limited, and now he is making up stories to save himself from the criticism he has come under for siding with corporate lobbies. If any import lobby, as alleged by Mr. Moily, is threatening him, then he should come out in the open and name it so that a proper investigation is carried out to nail the culprits. The Petroleum Minister cannot get away by making such allegations against invisible lobbies,” CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta said.
As of today, a majority of the oil and gas imports are done by the oil marketing companies (OMCs). While refiners such as Indian Oil Corporation and other OMCs import crude oil, PSUs such as Petrolenet LNG and GAIL India import gas. RIL and Essar Oil import oil for their own refineries. “It is strange that Mr. Moily is talking about non-existent lobbies. Major imports of oil and gas are done by the PSUs. There are hardly any other oil importer in India. His statement does not make sense but a deeper investigation in the matter would be the right thing to do. I did not encounter any lobby during my time and it all depends on the message you send,” a former Petroleum Minister said.
CPI leader D. Raja said Mr. Moily should speak out the truth. “Which is that lobby, which is that company threatening the Petroleum Ministry and him? Mr. Jaipal Reddy’s removal as Petroleum Minister last year was questioned by all quarters which wanted to know the forces behind his removal,” he said.
The former Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, denied that he was ever threatened by any oil importer. He demanded that Mr. Moily reveal the names. Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Naik said, “A horse rider should not complain about the horse. If he is, then he is not a good rider. Most of the oil is imported by PSUs and Mr. Moily is their boss. I don’t know why he is talking like this. It shows very poorly on him as the Petroleum Minister and the government. From 1963 when the Petroleum Ministry was formed till 2013, I was the only Petroleum Minister who served a full five-year tenure. I did not experience any such threat from anybody. Mr. Moily must name the oil importers who are threatening him.”
“In the UPA I and II, there were four Petroleum Ministers. Why so? It means they were not able to implement the policies properly. The government has failed to carry out the policies we initiated during the NDA regime. To me, the government is getting jittery due to the rising oil import bill. It is now 80 per cent of India’s requirement. During our time it was 70 per cent. The rise in oil import bill has caused tremendous pressure on the government and may be this is why Mr. Moily is talking like this. I don’t know if he is batting for somebody. If he is, then how is his position as a Minister getting elevated by making such observation? Batting for some corporate would weaken his position and that of the government,” Mr. Naik said.