IOCL’s ‘Jan Amantran’ vehicles spark off political war

Bhubaneswar: The campaign vans of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) named ‘Jan Amantran’ vehicles propagating various central programmes have sparked off a political war between BJP and BJD in the State.

Two heavyweights of the regional ruling party – Tourism minister Ashok Panda and Cooperation minister Damodar Rout have raised objections over the pictures of Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan on the IOCL campaign cars plying in 30 districts to invite people for the inauguration of Paradip oil refinery prior to the scheduled visit of prime minister Narendra Modi on February 7.

“How far is it justified to launch a ‘campaign unit’ instead of an oil refinery unit with government expenses?” asked Tourism minister Ashok Panda. Putting the picture of Petroleum minister on the vehicles is a blatant violation of Supreme Court guidelines, he added.

Similarly, the move to make IOCL a medium of propagation for central programmes with the minister’s photo did not go down well with Paradip MLA and Cooperation minister Damodar Rout.

“The campaign by IOCL is in decent. Those who lack basic knowledge about Centre- State relationship, do such things”, Rout said.

BJD MP and member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas Kalikesh Singhdeo also criticized the move to use a PSU for a political campaign.

“It’s not fair, if centrally sponsored schemes are propagated at IOCL expenses. In this case, the funds of a public sector unit (PSU) are being utilized politically,” Singhdeo said.

However, BJP saw no politics in it. “This campaign aims to make citizens aware about the pro-people programmes of central government. There is no politics involved in it. I want to ask them (BJD); why are they so intolerant towards it?” senior BJP leader Prithivraj Harichandan said.

Notably, Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan had on Saturday flagged off 30 vans named ‘Jan Amantran’ vehicles with an aim to invite people to attend the February 7 dedication of the Rs35,000-crore oil refinery project of the IOCL at Paradip to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The aim of running these vehicles was to reach out to people highlighting the welfare schemes and activities being undertaken by the NDA government, Pradhan had said after flagging off the vehicles.