Interview: Gurudas Dasgupta

‘Only court-directed inquiry can be impartial’

Print edition : March 21, 2014

Gurudas Dasgupta. Photo: PTI

Interview with Gurudas Dasgupta, CPI leader.

LAST year, Gurudas Dasgupta, in a series of letters addressed to the Prime Minister, pointed out that undue favours were being extended to Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) through natural gas price revision. The Communist Party of India (CPI) leader has been in the forefront of the campaign against corruption in the allocation of natural resources to private entities. In an interview to Frontline, he talked about the first information report filed against Reliance, his apprehensions about the outcome of an independent inquiry, and the public interest litigation (PIL) petitions pending in the Supreme Court on the gas price issue. Excerpts:

Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily has written to the Prime Minister stating that RIL’s contract cannot be cancelled as there is an arbitration pending on the issue. What are your views on this?

It is not a tenable argument. The company has violated the contract in several ways. It has deliberately produced less gas to influence the government to increase the price. The production is also limited to a very small area; a large part of the gas fields awarded to the company remain unexplored. There are several grounds on which the contract can be rescinded.

You had supported Arvind Kejriwal's action of filing an FIR against Reliance. What will be the legal fate and the larger political implications of this process with the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government having resigned in Delhi?

I had raised this issue almost eight months before the Kejriwal government took it up. I believe only an investigation under the directions of the court can be impartial. No independent inquiry is possible when the Petroleum Ministry itself is in connivance with the company.

Do you think the Left could have addressed the issue more effectively? Could it highlight the issue well enough?

The issue was highlighted adequately both in the print and the electronic media when the Left took it up. It came into focus in the public domain then. I don’t think there was any lack of coverage.

What is your reading of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) studied silence on the issue?

It is for you [the media] to arrive at a conclusion on the BJP’s and Congress’ silence on the issue.

How hopeful are you that the Supreme Court will be sympathetic to the larger public interest while deciding the PILs on the issue?

I have great faith in the courts. I have approached the court with a lot of optimism. The judiciary of the country has an important role to play in ensuring probity in public life.

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