Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Officials of the Petroleum Ministry on Monday termed “baseless and factually incorrect” reports that Petroleum Secretary R.S. Pandey had met Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani at the instance of Petroleum Minister Murli Deora before or after his appointment to the present post.

“Motivated campaign”

Highly placed sources said no such meeting was fixed or had taken place and the fact of matter was that Mr. Pandey had not met Mr. Ambani in his entire life and this was all a “motivated campaign” unleashed by vested interests to harm the reputation of the Petroleum Secretary, who was known for his honesty, integrity and hard work.

Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 29, much before Mr. Pandey officially took over, seeking the removal of the official for his alleged proximity to Mr. Ambani and charging that his appointment had the backing of the industrial house.

Mr. Pandey, a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration in 2005-06, was the Steel Secretary before he was handpicked by the Prime Minister’s Office for the job, the sources said. Interestingly, an SMS campaign was unleashed before Mr. Pandey took over, alleging that he was close to Mr. Ambani.