Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and Left parties on Friday slammed Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily for claiming to be under threat from oil import lobby, saying that the minister was concocting a story to help private firms gain from his proposal to raise natural gas prices.
Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta, who has in last few weeks attacked Moily for trying to help Reliance Industries by proposing nearly double natural gas prices next year, called the minister a "liar".
"This is a loot and he is a liar if he speaks of any import pressure," Dasgupta said, adding that public sector firms are the only firms importing oil and gas in the country and pressure that Moily is talking about must be from them, which cannot be the case.
In an interaction with reporters on Friday, Moily claimed that petroleum ministers are "threatened" by import lobbies not to take decisions that will cut India's $160 billion oil imports. "He is building a false statement, a false story," Dasgupta said claiming opposition to the proposal to increase gas price from his own officers and two important ministries. "Therefore I believe the story of pressure is being concocted, he added.
Former petroleum minister and senior BJP leader Ram Naik said Moily should have named the lobbies, which are trying to pressure him or even his predecessors, S Jaipal Reddy, Murli Deora or Mani Shankar Aiyar.
"I had been the only petroleum minister right from 1963 who has worked for 5 years continuously. There was no such pressure on me nor any effort to do or bring pressure. Pressures are brought on those who succumb to pressure and nobody pressurised me," he said.
CPI leader D Raja said Moily should speak out the truth. "Which is that lobby, which is that company threatening the petroleum ministry and him," he asked.
Raja said Reddy's removal as oil minister last year was questioned by all quarters who wanted to know the forces behind his removal. His party colleague Atul Kumar Anjan said Moily should disclose the names of those exerting pressure. "Also, an Special Investigation Team must be formed to make a report within three months because it a matter of plunder of country's natural resources."