BJP charges PMO with political impropriety

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New Delhi, Apr 25 (UNI) Charging the Prime Minister's office with committing serious political impropriety by writing as many as eight letters to the Petroleum Ministry for expediting gas allocation to the King India Power Ltd owned by the family of Shipping and Road Transport Minister T R Baalu, the BJP today demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself clarify the position.

''The PM's Office has its dignity and sanctity. But it is writing letters in favour of a private company amounts to committing political impropriety,'' BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, clarifying that he was not saying that a minister's family members cannot hold private companies.

He said the Petroleum Ministry should also make public the agreements gone into with the King India Power Company and the reason to scrap them.

Mr Prasad said as far as the BJP understood there were two companies owned by the family members of the Shipping and Transport Minister--the King India Power Company and the King Chemicals Company--of which the first was still on papers only. It was the second company, the King Chemicals which was given gas allocations in 1999 but despite several extensions the company was unable to sign contracts with GAIL, owing to differences in the calculations of costs.

The company had even informed the Petroleum Ministry that pending finalisation of transmission charges, it was not in a position to proceed towards signing of gas supply agreement with GAIL, he said.

Even this company also, King Chemicals, had been referred to BIFR.

Mr Prasad said Mr Baalu had not only misused his position to pressurise the Petroleum Ministry but also misled the House by not giving the facts.

He said the PMO had also weakened its position by writing such letters to the Ministry for a private company.

On a question that the agreement with Baalu's company was signed during the NDA regime, Mr Prasad said he did not see there was anything wrong in it. Moreover, when the BJP itself was demanding that the Petroleum Ministry make public all the facts about the deal everything would come in the public domain.

He also rebutted the charge that BJP was targeting Mr Baalu because his party, DMK, had withdrawn support to the NDA.

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