New Delhi: Congress on Friday sidestepped queries on M Veerappa Moily`s stunning remark that petroleum ministers are "threatened" by import lobbies, saying only he can explain it but stoutly denied any such pressure behind S Jaipal Reddy`s exit from the ministry earlier.
"He (Moily) will explain what he has said. This is for the concerned minister to explain not for the party to say anything. Only Moily can say what is the issue and its context. What action he has taken to isolate such lobbies," party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters at AICC briefing.
Ahmed at the same time strongly rejected suggestions that pressure by any lobby was behind the exit of S Jaipal Reddy from Petroleum Ministry, which had raked up a political controversy.
"Who told you that Reddy was removed on certain charges of pressure? This is the prerogative of the Prime Minister that who will look after what ministry. Who told you that he was removed on these reasons? This is not true," the Congress spokesperson said.
Ahmed hailed Moily as a "very competent, very transparent and very straight forward minister".
Replying to a question about BJP`s reported remarks on the issue, Ahmed alluded to corruption and favouritism charges against the then Oil Minister Ram Naik under NDA rule.
"Everybody has seen what had happened during Ram Naik`s period. Do not force me to open my mouth," Ahmed said.
In a stunning comment, Moily today said petroleum ministers are "threatened" by import lobbies not to take decisions that will cut India`s USD 160 billion oil imports.
Moily, who has been under attack from the CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta for proposing to hike natural gas prices by 60 percent, said he has been striving to attract investments in almost stagnant oil and gas exploration which will lead to higher domestic output and lesser reliance on imports.