Even as India Against Corruption launched a scathing attack on the government over alleged benefits being provided to Reliance Industries Ltd, BJP leader and former finance minister Jaswant Singh on Wednesday questioned if Jaipal Reddy was removed as petroleum minister because he took on RIL.
"Why has the petroleum and natural gas minister been changed? Is it due to any malfunction in the ministry that Manmohan Singh was persuaded to effect this change?" the senior BJP leader said.
"Or is it that Jaipal Reddy was not found as a 'convenient minister', or is this yet another example of corporate interests taking precedence over national good?"
Singh said RIL was producing gas below its commitment and added that reports had suggested the committed number of wells were not dug.
Singh also wondered whether, in view of reports that production had declined this year, the government would impose additional penalty on RIL as was done by Reddy.
Singh further said: "RIL wanted to increase the price per mmbtu by $10. This would result in a threefold increase in profits to the company (some say Rs. 65,000 crore or so,) and thus corresponding loss to the country. Is it this that has resulted in the minister being shifted?"
He questioned government on why it was resisting a comprehensive CAG audit of RIL.
Responding to charges that the NDA had signed a faulty KG basin agreement with RIL to benefit it, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: "The issue of raising prices of gas pertains to the UPA period."
But, former petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar disagreed with IAC's contention that he too had been shunted out because of RIL.
"The issue of gas pricing did not come up during my tenure. It was clear to me I was given a temporary portfolio...I don't know why he is taking my name."