Raising a bogey

Petroleum and natural gas minister Veerappa Moily’s claim that all oil ministers of the country have been threatened by import lobbies could  only be fantasy or mischief.

 Former ministers who have held the portfolio have denied any such threat. Moily moderated his claim a little, in the face of denials by others,  all-round criticism and controversy. He said he has not been personally threatened. Then who was threatened?  The clarification amounts to a denial of  the earlier statement. The minister had also said that he was not going to be cowed down by the threat.  If there was no real threat there was also nothing to be cowed down by.  his was typical bravado from a political  pulpit, meant to impress, but without any substance.

The minister said that the import lobby did not want the country’s oil and gas production to increase. He wants a better pricing policy for gas so that domestic production and investment in exploration can be incentivised.  The claim of  threat assumes some  meaning in this context.  Reliance Industries, the country’s major gas producer, has sought a major revision of the  price  of gas it produces in the KG basin.

The oil and gas ministry under Moily has been criticised for proposing a pricing formula which was against the country’s interests but would go a long way in meeting the company’s demand. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta had wanted the prime minister to remove Moily from the portfolio on this ground.  Since the government has not yet to  take a final decision on the price, was Moily creating a bogey for an early decision favourable to the company? Many think so.

Moily’s statement clearly lacked logic and credibility. It is public sector companies which import oil and gas and they have no reason to threaten anybody.  In any case they  won’t threaten the minister. If Moily’s claim has to be taken seriously he should name the source of the threat. and inform the prime minister and the cabinet. The minister also made some other statements of dubious merit.  He said India is floating in oil and gas and that he would try to make the country self-sufficient in them by 2030.

 This is rhetoric and words spoken through the hat. Moily’s charges and claims seem to be all wrong, and therefore the intention should be investigated by the prime minister’s office and action taken. 

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