Ram Naik sets up office near Goregaon railway station

Vol 3, PW 21 (10 Nov 99) People & Policy

Like his deputy, the new Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Ram Naik, will also be making regular trips to his constituency in Mumbai.

On Monday, 1st November, while Ponnuswamy was addressing reporters in Chennai, his boss Ram Naik was addressing a press conference at the Mumbai headquarters of Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL). "Please do not ask me any technical questions", the minister pleaded with journalists, "I have yet to study several issues and would not like to comment.

First there was the truckers strike and then parliament session. In the next 15 or 20 days I will be listening to presentations by the oil companies and only after that will I be able to comment".

A correspondent writes: "Naik is a cautious man. More than a month after taking charge, he is still unwilling to comment on crucial issues".

During the press conference Naik declined to answer questions on the fate of fuel subsidies. He confined himself to outlining plans to allot more LPG connections across the country and to meet demand by 2001-02.

He also promised more piped gas connections in Bombay and Delhi and said he would force all oil state owned oil companies to refer to Bombay by its new name: Mumbai, In addition, he promised to take up the cause of Bombay's 6m railway commuters. Press conference over, Naik promised to meet reporters more often, and handed out little yellow chits of paper listing his telephone numbers in Bombay and Delhi.

"This is the calling card of a poor minister", he smiled, as oil officials from HPCL sniggered in the background.