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Make public FM letter to PM on bugging case

Chandigarh: Rubbishing the Home Minister`s contention that reported bugging of Pranab Mukherjee`s office was a "non-event", the BJP on Sunday said it was a very serious matter and demanded that the Finance Minister`s letter to the Prime Minister in this regard be made public.

Reacting sharply to Chidambaram saying he did not know about the bugging incident in the offices of the Finance Minister and his aides, BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad said, "While the Finance Minister takes services of CBDT and foreign investigators before writing to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister says he was not aware."

Expressing surprise at Chidambaram`s statement that he was not aware of the Intelligence Bureau`s probe into Mukherjee`s complaint about "bugging" of his office in North Block despite the IB being under the Home Minister, Prasad said, "…It is the biggest comedy of Independent India."

Claiming that Mukherjee suspected bugging in his office and even wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in this regard, he said the BJP wanted the contents of the letter to be made public.

"The letter which the Finance Minister wrote to the Prime Minister must be made public," Prasad told reporters here this evening, adding that North Block was not the private property of Chidambaram or anybody else.
Prasad also attacked the Congress led UPA Government on the recent hike in kerosene, LPG and diesel.

"Common man is suffering most under the economist Prime Minister. During the past over three years, prices have been spiralling. The latest hike will futher lead to price rise and is inflationary," he said.

Casting doubts on the veracity of the government`s claims that the oil companies had suffered huge losses leading to hike in petroleum prices, Prasad said the actual figures told a different story.

Reeling off figures which he claimed he had procured from the websites of Indian Oil Corporation and the Hindustan Petroleum, Prasad said these indicate that they were making profit.

"As on March 31, 2010, IOC earned a net profit of Rs 10,998 crore. As on March 31, 2011, the company earned a profit of Rs 8,085 crore, according to the statement of account on their website. Despite being a smaller company in comparison, HP earned Rs 1476 crore profit as on March 31, 2010 and Rs 1703 crore as on March 2011," he said, adding as per his information even the ONGC and Bharat Petroleum were earning profits.

He questioned how the government arrived at figures like Rs 1 lakh crore loss incurred by the oil companies.

"It means that the Government of India is not speaking correctly. We demand that the Government make an official statement stating the actual profit and actual loss (of oil companies)," he said.

"Even if we assume for a moment that the companies were not earning profit, should the Government torture common people so that these companies earn more," he asked.

Asked to comment on the Congress asking states ruled by the party to take steps to provide relief to people by waiving taxes as much as possible after the oil hike, Prasad said the BJP does not buy this theory.

"The Congress-led government at the Centre wants to escape from its responsibility and shift it on others. First it gives wound by hiking prices and then wants others to do the healing process," he said.

Prasad alleged there was gross mismanagement of the economy by the Centre and added the BJP will not fall into the trap of Congress gameplan (of asking non-Congress ruled states to take initiatives).

"Moreover, maximum taxes on fuel were in Congress-ruled states of Delhi and Maharashtra," he said.

Prasad claimed there was one-upmanship in the Congress over seeing party General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi, become the country`s Prime Minister.

"What is the harm. Let them (the Congress) make Rahul Prime Minister. You have a Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh). Let them exchange seats. Let Rahul become PM," he said.

"I want to give them (the Congress) a suggestion. Let them make Rahul Prime Minister and let the country see whether Rahul Gandhi has the potential and talent to run a big country like India," Prasad said.

The BJP leader said that he had been in the Parliament for 11 years, "but I am yet to listen to a full speech from him".

On the Lokpal issue, he said that BJP in-principle was for a very effective Lokpal bill.

He said that on July 3 there was an all-party meeting and hoped this time "some tentative view from the Government side on the issue will be known".

When asked some parties had raised the issue that the assurance that India would be able to access sensitive nuclear technology has been "proved wrong" by the latest decision of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Prasad said, "We will definitely raise this issue".

"It is not a clean waiver…we will never like to compromise India`s sovereignty," he stated.

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