Reacting sharply to Chidambaram saying he did not know
about the bugging incident in the offices of the Finance
Minister and his aides, BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad said,
"While the Finance Minister takes services of CBDT and foreign
investigators before writing to the Prime Minister, the Home
Minister says he was not aware."
Expressing surprise at Chidambaram's statement that he
was not aware of the Intelligence Bureau's probe into
Mukherjee's complaint about "bugging" of his office in North
Block despite the IB being under the Home Minister, Prasad
said, "...It is the biggest comedy of Independent India."
Claiming that Mukherjee suspected bugging in his office
and even wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in this regard,
he said the BJP wanted the contents of the letter to be made
"The letter which the Finance Minister wrote to the
Prime Minister must be made public," Prasad told reporters
here this evening, adding that North Block was not the private
property of Chidambaram or anybody else.
Prasad also attacked the Congress led UPA Government on
the recent hike in kerosene, LPG and diesel.
"Common man is suffering most under the economist Prime
Minister. During the past over three years, prices have been
spiralling. The latest hike will futher lead to price rise and
is inflationary," he said.
Casting doubts on the veracity of the government's claims
that the oil companies had suffered huge losses leading to
hike in petroleum prices, Prasad said the actual figures told
a different story.
Reeling off figures which he claimed he had procured
from the websites of Indian Oil Corporation and the Hindustan
Petroleum, Prasad said these indicate that they were making
"As on March 31, 2010, IOC earned a net profit of
Rs 10,998 crore. As on March 31, 2011, the company earned a
profit of Rs 8,085 crore, according to the statement of
account on their website. Despite being a smaller company in
comparison, HP earned Rs 1476 crore profit as on March 31,
2010 and Rs 1703 crore as on March 2011," he said, adding as
per his information even the ONGC and Bharat Petroleum were
He questioned how the government arrived at figures like
Rs 1 lakh crore loss incurred by the oil companies.
"It means that the Government of India is not
speaking correctly. We demand that the Government make an
official statement stating the actual profit and actual
loss (of oil companies)," he said.
"Even if we assume for a moment that the companies were
not earning profit, should the Government torture common
people so that these companies earn more," he asked.
Asked to comment on the Congress asking states ruled by
the party to take steps to provide relief to people by waiving
taxes as much as possible after the oil hike, Prasad said the
BJP does not buy this theory.
"The Congress-led government at the Centre wants to
escape from its responsibility and shift it on others. First
it gives wound by hiking prices and then wants others to do
the healing process," he said.
Prasad alleged there was gross mismanagement of the
economy by the Centre and added the BJP will not fall into the
trap of Congress gameplan (of asking non-Congress ruled states
to take initiatives).
"Moreover, maximum taxes on fuel were in Congress-ruled
states of Delhi and Maharashtra," he said.
Prasad claimed there was one-upmanship in the Congress
over seeing party General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi, become the
country's Prime Minister.
"What is the harm. Let them (the Congress) make Rahul
Prime Minister. You have a Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh).
Let them exchange seats. Let Rahul become PM," he said.
"I want to give them (the Congress) a suggestion. Let
them make Rahul Prime Minister and let the country see whether
Rahul Gandhi has the potential and talent to run a big country
like India," Prasad said.
The BJP leader said that he had been in the Parliament
for 11 years, "but I am yet to listen to a full speech from
On the Lokpal issue, he said that BJP in-principle was
for a very effective Lokpal bill.
He said that on July 3 there was an all-party meeting
and hoped this time "some tentative view from the Government
side on the issue will be known".
When asked some parties had raised the issue that the
assurance that India would be able to access sensitive nuclear
technology has been "proved wrong" by the latest decision of
the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Prasad said, "We will definitely
raise this issue".
"It is not a clean waiver...we will never like to
compromise India's sovereignty," he stated.
Chandigarh: Rubbishing the Home Minister's
contention that reported bugging of Pranab Mukherjee's office
was a "non-event", the BJP on Sunday said it was a very serious
matter and demanded that the Finance Minister's letter to the
Prime Minister in this regard be made public.
First Published: Sunday, June 26, 2011, 21:46