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Cong opposes, RSS welcomes BPCL sale
January 27, 2003 19:07 IST
The Congress Party on Monday strongly opposed the government's decision to divest stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation saying that hydrocarbon is part and parcel of the strategic sector.
"The Congress has consistently and strongly opposed withdrawal of the state from the strategic sector of which hydrocarbon is a vital part. This position was clearly articulated in the party's plenary session at Bangalore," party spokesman S Jaipal Reddy told reporters in New Delhi.
There was no compulsion at all to sell off the two oil companies, he said strongly disapproving of the "unilateral" steps taken by the government on the issue.
"The party's opposition remains undiluted and unchanged," he said, adding the problem with the NDA government is that privatisation has become a "religion" for it.
Besides, in an apparent reference to war clouds over Iraq, he said such a step should not be taken in the strategic sector "when there was so much uncertainty in the world."
In a virtual U-turn, the RSS, which had steadfastedly opposed divestment in the oil sector on strategic grounds, welcomed the government's move to make a public offer for BPCL but said PSU oil firms should be strengthened to compete globally.
"We are not opposed for the sake of opposition. We are glad the government has accommodated our suggestion that some portion of the equity in BPCL be offloaded to public," RSS joint spokesman Ram Madhav said.
Asked about the decision to sell the equity in HPCL to a strategic partner, he said, "It will be discussed at our fora."
RSS sources, however, said it wanted one of the oil PSUs to buy the equity, which the government has decided to keep out.
Madhav, however, said, "Today's global politics is all about oil politics. India with its PSU majors has the potential to play a major role in the global oil market. We feel there is a need to strengthen our PSU oil companies so that they become oil majors and compete on the global platform."
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