GSPC – Did the RS Chairperson err in allowing a state subject to be debated?

GSPC - Discussing a state subject in Rajya Sabha

GSPC 20,000 cr scam - Mountain or a Molehill?
GSPC 20,000 cr scam - Mountain or a Molehill?

Did the Rajya Sabha (RS) Chairperson Hamid Ansari err in allowing debate on a CAG Report on GSPC which is a state subject?

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]amid Ansari became the Vice President of India in 2007 and is currently in his second term. He is not a stranger to making questionable decisions. Witness his conduct during the discussion of the LokPal bill in 2011. The LokPal bill was being voted on and there was an expectation among the public that the bill will pass and that the nation would get a New Year’s Gift in the form of a LokPal. Dashing such hopes, the RS Chairman adjourned the House on the dying minutes of the session on December 29, 2011. What peeved the Opposition further were reports that the President Pratibha Patil was standing by to extend the session, should it be necessary. But the UPA did not exercise this option.

Fast forward to 2016. The RS Chairperson Hamid Ansari decided to allow a debate in Rajya Sabha on the CAG Report on Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), which is clearly a state subject. The report was tabled in Gujarat Assembly. What is strange about this is that it is being debated on Rajya Sabha and the Central Government is expected to answer a report submitted to a State Assembly!

There were several reports – around five – of CAG in the past eight years about GSPC. This is because GSPC is one of the biggest Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) in the state. Every PSU engaged in oil and gas exploration activities gets brickbats from auditors as it usually makes severe losses because oil or gas expedition is a trial and error process. Even encouraging preliminary finds may end up being duds. That is why it is called Oil Exploration!

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]O[/dropcap]il or Gas expedition is a money consuming activity and companies get bouquets if they found oil or gas and likewise get slammed by the national auditor if there is a failure. This CAG report was not on a personal indictment such as the CAG report on 2G Scam blaming the accused Telecom Minister A Raja.

The main question is why Ansari is allowing a CAG report submitted in a state assembly to be debated in Rajya Sabha. Is it because this alleged “scam” occurred when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister? It is important to note this was a Gujarat Cabinet decision, under Chief Minister Modi. The report does not blame Modi personally. Then is it a Congress trick to blame Modi using this report? Is Congress trying to throw mud and see if some will stick? If yes, this would not be the first time.

Congress did it in an earlier CAG report on GSPC, submitted in April 2012. This became a national issue when Congress took it up, eight months afterward, in December 2012 based on a report published in the Tehelka Magazine.  Was this delayed report planted in Tehelka by AICC’s media department? Ashish Khetan, the author of this post and current Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader maybe able to answer. The title of this post is interestingSweet deals are made of gas!

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he following day, the then Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari conducted a full-fledged press conference on the delayed CAG report! Why? Was it because Congress was embroiled in 2G and Coal scams and this GSPC report was a way to deflect people’s attention away from their own scams?

Normally Congress and most media keep mum when CAG reports come out. But it gets interesting in the case of GSPC. Their private partner in Oil and Gas exploration for the longest time is a private company called Jubilant Energy. Who owns this company? It is Shyam Bhartia, husband of media baroness Shobhana Bhartia, the publisher of Hindustan Times, the third biggest newspaper of India. If there is a scam, one would expect Jubilant Energy to be among the beneficiaries. Shobhana Bhartia’s family is a traditional Congress family (she is the daughter of K K Birla) and she was nominated by the Congress party to the Rajya Sabha. She is one of the closest friends of Sonia Gandhi.

Then how come Congress and Modi baiter media houses and journalists are hiding this aspect (Bhartia connection) and making a brouhaha over these CAG Reports? Goes to prove our theory of throwing mud and seeing what sticks.

This also begs the question as to why BJP’s leaders in the Rajya Sabha allowed Hamid Ansari to have this debate! Did they submit a written protest on his decision? Was it a simple error on Ansari’s part of was he succumbing to Congress pressure? Only time will tell.

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