Often taunted for being an indecisive government, the UPA government is trying to prove everyone wrong in the last fortnight of its existence. Obviously, the opposition BJP, expected to come to power, wants to stop this. Most of the exit polls on Monday evening suggested that the ruling UPA is heading for a rout and the BJP-led NDA might form the next government.
The BJP is miffed after ministry of personnel, has sought to interview 15 candidates for the post of chairman and managing director of ONGC Videsh Ltd. The interview is slated for May 21. The prime minister office confirmed that PM Manmohan Singh will resign on May 17, the day after counting.
"OVL is the centre of the country's energy security. It is not acceptable that a `caretaker government' makes an appointment to head this crucial company," says Narendra Taneja - BJP's national convener of Energy Cell.
"We are approaching election commission against this move of the government," he said. The position has been vacant since, DK Sarraf joined the mother company, ONGC as CMD on February 1.
The list of candidates include ONGC directors, Shashi Shanker, NK Verma, interim CMD of OVL, SP Garg and D Rajkumar, CEO of another successful overseas oil and gas investment company, Bharat Petro Resources Ltd, or BPRL.
As per the election commission schedule, May 16 is the date for counting; the new government is expected to take oath on May 22. As per the process, personnel ministry after this interview sends recommendations to the appointment committee of cabinet headed by Prime Minister, for final approval. "The government of the day has right to stop all these processes. But it only lead to wrong perspectives," says Taneja of BJP.
His party leaders are already miffed with personnel ministry for pushing name of Manoj Misra as CMD of Cements Corporation of India. CBI too objected to processes adopted by ministry's headhunting arm, Public Enterprise Selection Bureau, or PESB for the same selection.
This came after the government got a face saver in the case related to the appointment of the new army chief. On Monday, election commission cleared the request of the Defence Minister for the same. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met on Tuesday and cleared the name of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the new chief. BJP cried foul here as well, and argued that since the incumbent chief will retire on July 31, the new government should have the right to appoint the new army leader. Insiders say, Lt General Ashok Singh, another contender was BJP's choice. However, this was not confirmed by BJP leadership contacted by Business Today.
However, the defence ministry officials however confirmed that Suhag had differences with former chief VK Singh -who apparently put a "discipline and vigilance ban" him. Suhag ws commander of 3 corps, and it was alleged that he failed to command and control the functioning of intelligence unit. VK Singh is BJP's contender from Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat.
Other than selection of officers, BJP is also keeping a strong vigil on NTPC acquiring power plants. As per sources, NTPC is in advance stage of finalizing these deals after evaluating half a dozen projects, including L&T's 1400 MW power plant in Rajpura, all the thermal power plant of Jaypee Group -500 MW in Bina, 1320 MW in Nigrie and 1980 MW Bara -other than this, 540 MW plant of GVK in Gobindwal and 1200 MW Lanco Udupi Power plant.
"UPA should not hurry up this purchase. They must wait for new government to take charge," says Taneja of BJP. NTPC in February end came out seeking expression of interests to acquire coal based thermal power plants from private as well as from state sector undertakings, provided they have requisite permissions along with coal and purchase agreements.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today