By Mayank Jain:Â
Given the choice between making statements and making amends, what would you choose?
In the long standing debate over AAP’s ideology and its stand on various issues, another facet has just taken birth; its intolerance towards capitalism and the corporate. The Public Private Partnership model is being reiterated all over the country as our panache for development and tamed growth, that doesn’t run over millions of lesser privileged ones among us. But due to long standing coalition politics and the dark reality of Indian bureaucracy, the model has started showing cracks already.
Aam Aadmi Party is hardly eight weeks old, but its rebellion and protests haven’t actually stopped and only increased after coming into the political system. In a latest move, the party has directed the Anti-Corruption Bureau to register an FIR against some bigwigs including Mukesh Ambani, RIL Chairperson, union petrol minister Veerappa Moily, former petroleum minister Murli Deora as well as former director general of hydrocarbons VK Sibal. The case has been registered under various sections of Protection of Corruption Act (PCA).
Arvind Kejriwal posted the full complaint through his social networks and described the hike in gas prices as an anti-national activity and threat to India’s sovereignty. The party is demanding to put the raise in gas prices on hold until the elections, as the hike might result in future windfall profit to Reliance Industries Limited amounting to 1.2 lakh crore. The complaint has pointed out that the decision to hike prices to $8.4 per One million British thermal unit from the existing $4.2 will take the gas prices in India to one of the highest in the world.
The intriguing part here is the silence of the major opposition party, BJP, on this collusive strategy of hiking prices between the government and the industry. The gas prices have been increased a number of times in the past as well and the standards to set prices have been jumped from one to another.Â The latest move will change the gas prices from April 1, when the term of UPA is almost over and this appears to be a last ditch effort of the government to help another corporate make windfalls over a public welfare service.
There have been numerous complaints in the past in this regard from many fronts including IAS official EAS Sarma. He said that he had written about the pricing mechanism in 11 letters to the Prime Minister and various other officials. He finally decided to write to the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal as the agreement was signed in Delhi and the minister didn’t shy away from taking up the issue and directed the ACB to carry out an investigation.
The blocks of D6 which were expected to produce 25% of the gas supplies needed by the Indian economy, have produced lesser than expected output and Reliance has blamed this on the geological complexities. But the government believes they didn’t drill enough wells to extract enough energy and this bid to raise prices with the backdrop of inefficient production, already looks much more unfair to the public at large.
The rise in prices of gas will have a trickle-down effect and adversely affect the prices of goods, transportation as well as storage which is totally against AAP’s populism ideology and the vehement opposition to the same reflects it.
Nobody should have any objections to fair pricing of hydrocarbons and anti-corruption practices being followed in the process, but we should also look at the need for energy in India and the government’s eerie silence on these burning issues. Production of energy should be ramped up from the state’s end so that corporates don’t have the power to arm twist the government into filling their coffers. On the other hand, more incentives and higher pricing for the corporates can increase interest of companies who would want to drill in the blocks and this might bring us better technologies and result in efficiencies in the long run.
For now, the focus should be on setting modest prices that don’t result in losses to either side and eliminate corrupt practices by developing better models of infrastructural development meanwhile.