Oil minister Ram Naik ignores junior Santosh Gangwar

Vol 3, PW 26 (02 Feb 00) People & Policy

Not many know that India has three oil ministers.

First in the hierarchy is Ram Naik, the BJP and Member of Parliament (MP) from Mumbai who sits in the cabinet. Then comes Etienne Ponnuswamy, a Minister of State and MP from southern India.

Below Ponnuswamy comes Santosh Gangwar, also from the BJP and also a Minister of State, who held the job in the last BJP government. It is unclear why there are three oil ministers.

What is clear is that Naik resents the presence of Gangwar. Two months after his reappointment to the oil ministry, Gangwar is without work.

Naik refuses to allocate him any work despite reminders by Gangwar himself and some BJP party leaders. The result is that no paper in the ministry comes to Gangwar.

If he asks for information, bureaucrats rarely oblige. Gangwar was not even provided with a room in the ministry until a month ago.

When he complained loudly, a joint secretary was asked to move to another room to make way for him. Except his private secretary, no other member of Gangwars staff has been provided with accommodation at the oil ministry.

They all operate from his house. Naiks dislike for Gangwar was evident during a recent press conference called to announce the end of a strike by oil industry workers.

In front of journalists, Naik rebuked Gangwar for talking to a reporter while the press conference was on. Naik also rounded on Gangwar for writing a note to petroleum ministry officials about a favour sought by senior leader Ram Krishan Hegde.

Petrowatch learns Naik again snubbed Gangwar when the latter asked the ministry to release 500 LPG connections in the Prime Ministers parliamentary constituency in Lucknow.