HOW TO HELP FRIENDS AS AN OIL MINISTER

Vol 3, PW 13 (24 Jul 99) People & Policy
     

One of the biggest complaints Indian electors have about their politicians is that when they assume office they forget about their constituency.

Oil minister Vazhappady Ramamurthy and his deputy, Santosh Gangwar are no exception to this rule. But now with elections imminent, both Ramamurthy and Gangwar are going overboard in granting favours to their constituents.

How By seeking a substantial number of out of turn connections for the supply of LPG. This report learns that since 17 April, when the government fell, Ramamurthy and Gangwar have between them sanctioned around 250,000 connections to voters in their respective constituencies in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

In so doing, both ministers are using a novel method to circumvent the rules. Normally, ministers, like other members of Parliament, are allowed only 40 out-of-turn LPG connections every three months.

In getting more connections, Gangwar and Ramamurthy are sending lists of nominees direct to the state-oil companies that disburse the LPG connections. Their chairmen have no restriction on the number of connections they can sanction and are too scared to disobey a request from a minister.

The lists are first sent to Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) which sanctions 50% of the connections, while the balance is equally divided between Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum. Now that election dates have been formally announced, the PSU bosses are breathing a sigh of relief that the lists have stopped coming.

To ask for favours pre-election is to breach the election code and invite prosecution.

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