Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal, who recently attacked the Centre for allegedly giving undue favours to Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in its contract with the Mukesh Ambani company to develop gas fields in the Krishna-Godavari basin, has again warned against granting a rise in gas rates to the company.
Kejriwal today warned the government that if it “dared to raise the gas rates, then it would be resisted tooth and nail with a nationwide agitation”. Commenting on reports that Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily was preparing to increase gas rates from $4.2 per mBtu (million British thermal units) to $14.2 per mBtu, Kejriwal tweeted: “We warn the government. Gas ke rate badhane ki himmat na karna. Warna desh mein ghamasan hoga. People will not tolerate it.”'
He added: “Don’t test the patience of the people. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to survive. Don’t push them to the wall.”
He also described Moily as Mukesh Ambani’s agent. “Moily does not have the guts to get Ambani’s RIL audited by the CAG. Moily is behaving like Ambani's agent,” he said, demanding the minister resign.
Kejriwal also broke his silence on the Lok Pal Bill recommendations of the Select Committee of Parliament today. While Anna Hazare had rejected the suggestions of the Committee, Kejriwal today put forth his reservations very subtly.
Citing the example of Neera Yadav, former chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh, who was sent to jail by court for three years on corruption charges, Kejriwal said there was no provision in law for the recovery of the crores of rupees she made. “Isn’t that a great deal? Make thousands of crores and then go to jail just for three years! Today, corruption is a zero-risk, high-profit business. No other business in the world is as lucrative and less risky than corruption in India. That’s why we wanted the Lok Pal Bill to plug all these loopholes. If anyone indulges in corruption, send him to jail, attach all property and recover all the loss caused to the government and dismiss him from service.”
He suggested the Lok Pal should ideally ensure an offender goes to jail, while his property is attached and his job taken away.
Pointing out another loophole in the government law enforcing machinery, he said while Yadav would have made at least tens of crores, the court fined her a paltry Rs 1 lakh. “Isn’t it a joke?” he asked.
Not only had she to pay a small fine of Rs 1 lakh, the judge just gave her three years jail, he added.
“That too was put off. She got bail immediately. Does the government’s Lok Pal Bill remove these loopholes?” the activist questioned.
Kejriwal’s group, however, has refrained from making specific comments on the Select Committee’s recommendations on the Lok Pal Bill.
Sources said that the group did not want to speak on the issue when Hazare was also speaking on it.