Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do not chase headlines, Jaipal tells Joshi

Part of this report has appeared in DNA of June 21, 2011

Refuses to comment leaked draft CAG report, promises transparency in ministry's response

New Delhi: Petroleum and natural gas minister S.Jaipal Reddy was in his rhetorical element when he briefed the media on the leaked draft CAG report on gas production by private operators in the Krishna-Godavari basin.

He said that senior BJP leader and PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi had compromised his position by commenting on leaked draft report. “Instead, he should have issued a norice,” Reddy said. “Draft report is not the final report. CAG sends report with an open mind. By making comments (Joshi and CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechuri), they are prejudicing the processes,” the minister commented.

“Why is Mr joshi jumping the gun? Is he not compromising himself?” he asked. Then he went ballistic Jaipal style: “The octogenarian politician is hunting for headlines. He should leave it to younger politicians. He should not undulge in it.”

He also took up cudgels against Jshi for singling out home minister P.Chidambaram and termed it 'ridiculous'. He said Chidambaram was a member of an Empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM). The decisions taken were collective. They will end up losing credibility if the decisions of groups are not taken for what they are – collective.”

He said the CAG, the ministry – in this case the oil ministry – the parliament are on the same side, and they are concerned with acertaining the truth. The relationship between the CAG and the ministry is not adversarial.

Reddy declared that the ministry will send its considered reply to the CAG's draft report, and if the CAG holds on to its criticism in its final report, then “we will not hesitate to correct ourselves, take remedial action. I am not unduly concerned over the leakge or the criticism of the ministry contained in the draft report. If there is valid criticism we will accept. If we do not agree with the criticism, we will reject.” He promised the ministry will be transparent in its reponse to the CAG. “Our ministry will be completely trasparent.”

He said policies initiated in the 1990s – for example, the Investments Multiple idea was evolved in 1995 – perhaps need a re-look after 16 years. He said there is no harm in revising policy. He warned that constant criticism over details will make it difficult for the government to take big decisions. “Our development will suffer in the process,” he said. He requested opposition leaders to refrain from sensation-mongering.

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