Is T.R. Baalu a survivor or what – Offstumped takesÂ a critical look at this record.
Did you know that he has had his seat warm in the Union Cabinet since 1995 no matter whether it is the Third Front, Second Front or the Numer Uno Front in power ?
Little wonder his clout runs deep and all the way up to the PMO. For if there has been one fixture of continuity in the corridors of power in New Delhi apart from the Civil Service it is perhaps T.R. Baalu.
To fully appreciate T.R. Baalu’s gastric problems we must rewind back to the United Front days when he was Minister of State for Petroleum. Back then T.R. Baalu was pushing for petrochemical projects to be located in home state Tamil Nadu despite their questionable viability.
First it was a proposal for an export-oriented refinery in Nagapattinam which was shelved by the IOC board. But then persistent Baalu would have none of it and he pushed BPCL complex at Krishnapattnam in Tamil Nadu. The sequence of events here is interesting and it goes to highlight how deep Baalu’s run-ins with the Oil&Gas industry are.
May 12 – BPCL Board refuses to sanction 50 crores for the preparation of a detailed feasibility report since the proposal did not establish the project’s viability. The board has directed that the proposal be re-examined and specific details on its profitability be put up for reconsideration.
May 30th – Ignoring objections raised by the Petroleum Ministry, the board of Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) has approved the proposal for setting up a Rs 7,346 crore petrochemicals complex in Tamil Nadu, the home state of Minister for Petroleum T R Baalu.
Well that was 1997. Let us now fast forward to 2008 and the latest nepotism charges against Baalu. The specific charges against Baalu relate to his admission in parliament two days ago that he had put in a word to the petroleum minister and also pushed the Prime Minister’s Office to expedite gas allocation to Kings Chemical and Kings High Power – companies owned by his two sons from his two wives.
The issue assumes an even more serious proportion for it drags the teflon coated Prime Minister (petrochemical pun unintended) into it with the PMO writing to the Petroleum Ministry asking it to expedite the release of gas. Acoording to the TNN, the PMO wrote 8 letters between 2007 an 2008.
At the heart of the issue is the Gas shortage. The TNN also has details on the gas shortage and the impact on power plants. Now here is the rub. Baalu’s flatulenceÂ has been to both sides of the Gas shortage equation.
Back in 1998 Baalu made news for claiming that that the reserves in the Andamans were roughly 1,700 billion cubic feet, making it the country’s second-largest gas reserve after the South Bassein fields. The Indian Express had then carried this editorial criticizing Baalu for making pompous promises which had no bearing in reality for no Oceanographic studies had been conducted to back up the claim.
Offstumped Bottomline: That T.R. Baalu was aÂ habitual nepotist should come as no surprise to anyone. What is damning is the extent to which the Prime Minister’s Office went out on a limb to curry favors to his bigamous family business. As the teflon coating peels off Dr. Mamohan Singhis it surprising that the 8 letters written by the PMO should leak in the same week that Rahul Gandhi’s competence to be Prime Minister is tom tommed ?