Patel says energy security prime concern, not delaying elections

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New Delhi, Jul 21 (UNI) Arguing in favour of the 'vote of confidence' in the Lok Sabha, Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel (NCP) today said it was sad that at a time when the House should be debating on the merits of energy security, it was indulging in petty politics.

Lambasting the opposition for its ''parochial and narrow'' thinking on the nuclear deal, which was imperative if India was to stand in the league of advanced countries, Mr Patel said it was unfortunate to learn that ''through our shallow debate, we are cutting a sorry figure in the eyes of the world.'' ''Today the entire world is watching us and we are making a mockery of the debate which concerns the future of the country.'' Claiming that it would have been better had the opposition come out with alternate suggestions to buttress their claims, but with them indulging in base level arguments, the entire issue had taken an entirely different hue, said the minister.

''Instead of understanding the issue, the opposition is indulging in needless arguments.'' Stressing that the Hyde Act did not concern India, as US laws did not apply on the country, Mr Patel said,''It is the 123 Agreement which concerns us.

''Why are they dragging the Hyde Act when it does not apply on our country?'' When queried by the Opposition whether US would be governed by US laws like the Hyde Act or laws made in India, the minister was hard to explain how it would not concern India.

Explaining the energy scenario in the country where the requirement of petroleum products was of 135 metric tonnes (mt), and production a mere 32mt, Mr Patel said while the country had to spend Rs 75,000 crore last year, it would be burdened with Rs 250,000 crore in getting petroleum products this year.

''Despite this, the government had not burdened the common man with increasing cost inputs. This is in the light of the fact that the government incurs a loss of Rs 12 per litre on petrol, Rs 25 on diesel, Rs 35 kerosene and Rs 350 on cooking gas.'' It was in the light of this that the government wanted the nuclear deal with not just the US but with several other countries as well, he said.

Arguing that the debate was not of delaying elections, as was being alleged by the Opposition, the minister said it was the question''whether we were moving in the right direction.'' ''The commitment of the government was being questioned. The patriotism of the Prime Minister was being questioned, hence we are here today.'' ''What we also wanted to know was whether others in the House were also pro-poor and committed to energy security as we were,''he said, adding ''whether we are giving the future generation a future or taking the country 50 years back.'' It was the future of the country which was in focus and at stake, Mr Patel added.

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