'Oil minister concocted story of threats'
Slamming Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily for claiming to be under threat from the oil import lobby, Opposition BJP and Left parties on Friday said that the minister was concocting a story to help private firms gain from his proposal to raise natural gas prices.
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta, the first to criticise Moily, alleged that the minister was trying to help Reliance Industries by proposing nearly double the natural gas prices for next year, and called the minister a “liar”.
“This is a loot and he is a liar if he speaks of any import pressure,” said Dasgupta, adding that only public-sector firms import oil and gas. The pressure Moily mentions must be from them, which can’t be the case.
Former petroleum minister and senior BJP leader Ram Naik said that Moily should have named the lobbies which are trying to pressure him or even his predecessors — S Jaipal Reddy, Murli Deora or Mani Shankar Aiyar.
“I had been the only petroleum minister right from 1963 who has worked for five years continuously. There was no such pressure on me, nor any effort to bring pressure.
Pressures are brought on those who succumb to it, and nobody pressurised me,” he said.
CPI leader D Raja said that Moily should speak out the truth. “Which is that lobby, which is that company threatening the petroleum ministry and him?” he asked.
However the Congress sidestepped queries on Moily’s statement, saying that only he can explain it. “He (Moily) will explain what he has said. This is for the concerned minister to explain, not for the party. Only Moily can say what the issue and its context are, and what action he has taken to isolate such lobbies,” party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters here.