The Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) decision is just as bad. Having eliminated public sector oil companies from the race, the government has tilted the balance in favour of private bidders, even waiving the Rs 2,000 crore minimum investment needed for entry into petro product marketing. If foreign companies are not permitted to bid, the government may end up gifting HPCL away. But there is another catch. Although the government will divest 34 per cent of HPCLs equity, it will retain veto power over key policy decisions such as change in Memorandum of Association, share capital structure, winding up of the company, disposing of existing assets or pursuing any new line of business which the government thinks may be detrimental to the interests of the company. This means that the petroleum minister will continue to have a say in the running of HPCL, and only those brave bidders who are confident of their powers of persuasion will bid for the PSU. The decision to keep Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) out of the bidding process is also intriguing. Normally one would support the argument that PSUs should not be allowed to bid for other PSUs. But the CCDs decision has taken neither BPCL nor HPCL out of the governments clutches anyway. In the circumstances, ONGCs argument that it should be allowed forward integration into oil refining and distribution in order to compete with the private sector makes sense, though this will not meet the objective of privatisation. Also, allowing the finance ministry to continue to milk a cash rich PSU while not permitting it to take advantage of market opportunities is not fair. That the government has broken through the political opposition to disinvestment is a welcome development, but it would make far more sense if it re-examined some of the details.