Today's Paper

I only suggested a review: Fernandes

NEW DELHI OCT. 5. Caught in a controversy over questioning the policy of disinvestment, especially in the oil sector, the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, today maintained that he had only suggested a mid-term review of the functioning of the NDA Government — which, he said, had been acknowledged by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Mr. Fernandes, who is also Samata Party president, said he had been raising the issue of a mid-term review for the past three months, since the Vajpayee Government had completed over half of its term.

Once an appraisal was done, ``course correction'' could be applied if necessary.

Mr. Fernandes denied he had objected to disinvestment in oil majors such as the BPCL and the HPCL and asserted that he would place his views only in the appropriate forum.

Addressing a press conference while admitting an independent U.P. MLA Rajaram Pandey into the party, Mr. Fernandes said the suggestion for a mid-term review would include even the policy of disinvestment. His party's suggestion for a review had been conveyed to Mr. Vajpayee who said it was `justified'.

On Mr. Vajpayee's critical observation that a public debate on disinvestment was spoiling the atmosphere, Mr. Fernandes said the Prime Minister was not referring to any individual in particular.

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