Modi should re-think laying Barmer refinery foundation stone: Gehlot; revised pact saved Rajasthan Rs 40,000 cr: Parnami
A war of words broke out between the BJP and Congress on Saturday over the Barmer refinery as former chief minister Ashok Gehlot said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reconsider his decision to re-lay the foundation stone while the ruling party said it had saved the state Rs 40,000 crore under a revised agreement.Updated: Jan 06, 2018 20:14 IST
A war of words broke out between the BJP and Congress on Saturday over the Barmer refinery as former chief minister Ashok Gehlot said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reconsider his decision to re-lay the foundation stone while the ruling party said it had saved the state Rs 40,000 crore under a revised agreement.
Modi is expected to lay the foundation stone for the refinery proposed in Pachpadra, 120km from Barmer, on January 16.
Addressing media persons, Gehlot said he had written to Modi on August 12, 2017 and again on January 5, requesting him to re-think his visit for foundation stone laying as this had already been laid by former Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 2013.
He said chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s obstinate attitude had delayed the project and caused a cost overrun of Rs 6000 crore from Rs 37,000 crore to Rs 43,129 crore. The former Congress government had signed an MoU with HPCL for putting up the 9MMT capacity refinery and petrochemical complex at a cost of Rs 37,229 crore.
“The chief minister should apologise to the public for misleading them and for her anti-development stance.”
Gehlot’s outburst comes at a time when the BJP government is showcasing the refinery as a major achievement. Raje has often said the agreement signed earlier with HPCL by the Congress agreement was an unprofitable proposition for the state. She said her government renegotiated the terms of agreement, saving the state Rs 40,000 crore.
State BJP president Ashok Parnami said since the earlier MoU has been cancelled, there is no question of re-laying the foundation stone. He claimed the groundwork for the refinery had been laid in 2005 by Raje who was chief minister then. “As the Congress was in power at the Centre then, it did not give us permission to go ahead with the project.”
He said when Gehlot became chief minister, he initiated the project in a hurry in the last year of his tenure. “No expert committee was set up nor was any survey done. They signed the agreement under which the government would have to give Rs 56,000 crore to HPCL for 30 years to set up the refinery despite giving them land, water and electricity,” Parnami said
“The agreement signed by the Congress government would have burdened the state with a debt of Rs 1,57,000 crore. We renegotiated the terms and brought down the payment to Rs 16,000 crore. Gehlot should apologise to the people for his ill-considered decision.”
Gehlot said as per the agreement signed by the Congress government with HPCL, an incentive of Rs3736 crore was to be paid by the government to HPCL for 15 years. “However this was only in the event that the crude output was 4.5 MMTPA. If the crude output was more, then the government would not have to pay the interest free loan. The current crude output is 9MMTPA and so there is no need to give interest-free loan.”
Gehlot also said to repeat the mantras and pooja done at the time of foundation stone laying was against religious sanctity and re-laying the foundation stone was not a healthy tradition.
‘Cong not against triple talaq bill, BJP playing politics’
Former CM Ashok Gehlot on Saturday said Congress has always favoured women’s empowerment and is not against the triple talaq bill but only wants the shortcomings to be ironed out.
“It was (former Congress president) Sonia Gandhi who had raised the demand for 33% reservation for women in parliament and state assemblies,” Gehlot told reporters.
“The BJP is only playing politics. It has no love for Muslim women or the Muslim community. They did not give tickets to any Muslims candidates in the UP or Gujarat elections. Muslim women understand this,” he said replying to a question on the issue of the Congress stalling the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha.
He said the Congress was only pointing out the lacunae in the bill so that these could be ironed out and Muslim women would not face problems.
Replying to a question on Congress’s soft Hindutva approach and Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s temple visits in Gujarat, Gehlot said Congress had never been anti-Hindu or opposed temples. “It’s a myth that only BJP or RSS are Hindus.”
He said, “Rahul’s visit to temples was made an issue by the BJP which believes in polarisation of votes. They were worried about their vote bank and so it became an issue instead of development.”