Now RSS Welcomes Decision, Oppn Sings Strategic Tune

New Delhi, January 27: | Updated: Jan 28 2003, 05:30am hrs
In a virtual U-turn, Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS), which had steadfastedly opposed disinvestment in the oil sector on strategic grounds, on Monday welcomed the governments move to make a public offer for BPCL but said public sector oil firms should be strengthened to compete globally.

We are not opposed for the sake of opposition. We are glad the government has accommodated our suggestion that some portion of the equity in BPCL be offloaded to public, RSS joint spokesman Ram Madhav told PTI here.

When asked about the decision to sell the equity in HPCL to a strategic partner, he said, it will be discussed at our fora.

On other hand, BJP welcomed the government decision to disinvest in HPCL and BPCL saying now there was the need to implement this decision expeditiously.

This is a very welcome decision. The privatisation of oil companies was long overdue. Considerable thought has gone into the whole process. There is now a need for implementing this decision expeditiously, party spokesman Arun Jaitley told reporters here.

The main opposition party Congress strongly opposed the decision saying that hydrocarbon is part and parcel of the strategic sector.

The Congress has consistently and strongly opposed withdrawal of the state from the strategic sector of which hydrocarbon is a vital part. This position was clearly articulated, party spokesman S Jaipal Reddy said.

There was no compulsion at all to sell off the two oil companies, he said strongly disapproving of the unilateral steps taken by the government on the issue.

Terming the government decision as betrayal of countrys interest, CPM demanded a halt on the sale of the companies.

Vajpayee governments decision to sell public assets in such a vital sector is nothing but a betrayal of countrys interest, a party statement said.

The governments decision not to allow public sector units like ONGC to bid for HPCL makes it clear the Centre is determined to foster private monopolies, both foreign and Indian, in the strategic sector, the statement added.

Notwithstanding the claim of the government that no Parliamentary approval is required, both these oil companies were nationalised by a legislation adopted in Parliament which could not be bypassed, it said adding the party would observe February 14 as protest day across the country.