AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal Friday asked the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to state his position on gas pricing involving industrialist Mukesh Ambani, alleging that the matter was already costing the exchequer an annual loss of Rs.54,000 crore.
Kejriwal wanted to know if Modi would reduce natural gas prices, which were allowed to be doubled to Rs.8 per unit, and said he was accordingly sending an open letter to him. He held a press conference here on the matter. "You are a prime ministerial candidate, but why are you still quiet over the issue? The common man wants to know: If your party forms the government and you become the prime minister, will you bring down the gas price from $8 per unit to $4?" Kejriwal asked.
The Aam Aadmi Party leader also said that if the gas prices double from April 1, as permitted by the central government, it will not only fuel inflation across the country but, being a feedstock, it will also raise the prices of electricity steeply. "The AAP government's anti-corruption wing has already filed a first information report against Mukesh Ambani. Allegations are some ministers of the UPA government gave their consent to hike gas prices to reward Mukesh Ambani in an improper manner," he said.
In 2000, he said, Reliance Industries was allowed to sell gas at $2.3 per unit for 17 years. But from time-to-time the prices were raised in a questionable manner to more than $4 per unit, even as it is alleged that the cost was just $1 per unit. Kejriwal said as opposed to the Delhi government's annual budget of Rs.40,000 crore, the alleged ill-gotten gains for the company was Rs.54,000 per annum. "All this money will go from our pockets. Why?" He said he intended to write a similar letter to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as well. "Why are you and Rahul Gandhi silent on this?"
Kejriwal's said that after the report was filed by the state's anti-corruption wing, when his party was in power in Delhi, the leaders of both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress criticised it. "Do they have such a strong bonding with Mukesh Ambani?"
Kejriwal said since the matter pertained to the common man, he was making his letter public, adding that Modi may choose not to reply. But if he makes his views on these matters public, it will remove people's doubts on the matter.