A routine meeting: Joshi

NEW DELHI OCT. 3. The Human Resource Development Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi, today sought to downplay differences within the Government on the issue of disinvestment saying the press was making a "mountain out of a molehill".

Talking to presspersons, he said the meeting between him and two Cabinet colleagues, George Fernandes and Ram Naik, on Wednesday was routine. The Union Cabinet had deferred a decision on disinvestment of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited for three months. Since a month had passed, the three of them had met to discuss the issue.

Asked about his meeting with the RSS chief, K.S. Sudarshan, on the same day, Dr. Joshi said he had met him only to discuss the issue of cow protection.

Naik reiterates stand

The Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, today reiterated that the strategic sale of the BPCL and the HPCL was against the consumers' interest but said that disinvestment up to 49 per cent could be allowed.

"I am not against the disinvestment in the oil sector," Mr. Naik said, when asked about the Prime Minister's statement, at a function to launch an anti-adulteration cell website here. However, he was in favour of a public offer in the companies to reduce the Government's holding.

The "cooling off" period of three months was being used for inter-ministerial discussions, as part of which he had a meeting with Mr. Fernandes and Dr. Joshi, he added. — PTI, UNI

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