Now, Kejriwal targets Mukesh Ambani
India Against Corruption today brought Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani in its line of fire alleging that the UPA and the previous NDA governments had favoured his company by giving contract on gas exploration in KG Basin and concessions at a huge cost to the exchequer.
Calling it a "classic case of crony capitalism", activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan alleged that Reliance was "blackmailing" the government to increase the price of gas by "almost stopping" the production and indulging in "hoarding like petty traders".
Attacking the decision to shift S Jaipal Reddy from Petroleum Ministry, they alleged it was now "absolutely crystal clear" that he was eased out of the crucial ministry only on account of "pressure" from Reliance Industries. They said Reddy was "honest" and his "ouster" was only because he "actively resisted" Reliance' demand for an increase in the price of gas and wanted to penalise the company for "wilful reduction" of production of gas.
He asked why did Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not seek the opinion of the Attorney General when the then Petroleum Minister Manishankar Aiyar "refused to give in" to Reliance' demand for increasing the price of gas from USD 2.34 per unit to USD 4.2 per unit in 2006.
"In 2006, Aiyar was removed and Murli Deora was brought in and he cleared the files within one and half months. Why does he seek the opinion of Attorney General now? Why does his heart beats only for Reliance?" Kejriwal said.
New Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily refused to react to the allegations.
Kejriwal said it is always said that the Prime Minister is not involved in corruption but he comes under the purview of Prevention of Corruption Act for certain decisions taken by his government in various matters like 2G and coal block allocations.
The activists demanded that the KG Basin contract be cancelled and government should immediately put in place adequate systems to get full production from the same location at cheapest prices for the country. "This was a sweet agreement which the BJP gave to Reliance on strange conditions which says that when the production cost increases, the profit also increases for the company," Kejriwal said.
They also cited purported conversations between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and A B Vajpayee's foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya to say that Ambani had claimed that Congress was under his control.
The press conference also witnessed some drama when three youths shouted slogans against Kejriwal and tried to throw a shoe at him. The youths were overpowered by IAC supporters and handed over to police.
Just before this, another man raised questions about his wife, an IRS Officer, not getting a transfer out of Delhi for the past 20 years. As there was commotion, Kejriwal asked his supporters to allow him to raise the question but media persons surrounded him, saying non-journalists were not allowed to raise questions.