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Has $6 bn Rajasthan petro project hit a political roadblock?

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Jaipur: Politics seems to have slammed a Rs.37,230 crore ($6 billion) 9 mmtpa (million metric tonnes per annum) petrochemical complex in Rajasthan that was estimated to generate some 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of the Congress has accused his successor, Vasundhara Raje of the BJP, of “unnecessarily” stalling the project.

“It seems that the Chief Minister has some vested interest; that is why she is not keen on setting up the refinery (in Barmer),” Gehlot told IANS.

“The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex is a big project that would not only give economic benefits to the state but will also provide employment to thousands of youth. By delaying its construction, the state government is crushing the interests of the state,” Gehlot added.

The complex was to be established by HPCL-Rajasthan Refinery Ltd. (HRRL) – a joint venture company of HPCL and the Rajasthan government.

“We had given consultancy work to SBI Caps for the project. However, the present government has asked a private company to review the project. After giving crores of rupees to this company, the state government is trying to come out with a fabricated report to mislead by saying that the previous regime’s proposal was not favourable for the state,” Gehlot said.

Noting that HPCL is a Central Government enterprise with Navratna status, Gehlot said: “Still, the state government is misleading the people by repeatedly saying that the share agreed to by the Congress government will lead to losses since the land, water and oil belong to the state.”

“The fact is that the state government will fully recover the amount for land and water from the project. The state government will get a one-time return of Rs.200 crore in lieu of the land to be given for the project,” he added.

Gehlot’s government had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with HPCL for establishing the complex in Barmer district at an estimated cost of over RS 37,230 crores in March 2013. A JV agreement was signed in July 2013 between HPCL and the state government.

The proposed refinery was to be a subsidiary of HPCL, whose equity share was to be 74 percent, while 26 percent was to be held by the state government.

As per the terms and conditions, every year, an interest-free loan of Rs 3,736 crore was to be provided by the state government to the JV for 15 years from the time commercial production commenced at the refinery. This has now become a sticky point, said sources in the know of developments relating to the project.

Gehlot also castigated the Raje government on the law and order situation.

“Since this government came into power, dacoities, murders and thefts have increased,” he said.

He also flayed the BJP government on farmers’ deaths.

“It is unfortunate that farmers are committing suicide every day. In a state like Rajasthan, where farmers’ did not take such extreme step even in the worst of times like drought, at least 50 farmers have been compelled to take their own lives.”

“I do not want to politicise the issue, but I feel there is a complete inaction on the part of the government both at the centre and in the state,” Gehlot said. (IANS)

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Rahul Gandhi Hints Rajasthan CM Issue Sorted

Pilot reportedly has put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief

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Rahul Gandhi
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In a sign that the leadership question in Rajasthan has been settled, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday posted his photograph with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, both contenders for the Chief Minister’s post, as party sources hinted that Gehlot could be the party’s choice for the top post.

The photograph of the smiling leaders had a caption “United Colours of Rajasthan!”, without giving any hint as to who will be the Chief Minister. An official announcement is expected in the evening.

Gandhi’s tweet capped hectic consultations with Gehlot, who appears set to return as Chief Minister in Rajasthan, and state Congress chief Sachin Pilot, who put up his claim strongly.

Gehlot, a two-time Chief Minister, and Pilot reached Gandhi’s residence within minutes of each other on Friday. A decision is expected to be announced on Friday.

Ahead of the meeting, Gehlot took a veiled dig at Pilot saying that the party unit had already left the decision on Gandhi and it was not the time to express individual choices.

“We have given the duty to the High Command. Let it decide who is to be given what responsibility. If I say my choice is this, it is not time for that. The time is to strengthen the Congress, see how its graph goes up.

“If Congress is strong, everyone will be empowered and we prove to be useful in meeting the objectives of the 2019 elections. This alone should be our thinking,” Gehlot said.

He said a resolution had been passed by newly elected MLAs in Rajasthan authorising the High Command to take a decision.

“Whether it is Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, once a resolution is passed, the decision of the Congress President should be acceptable to all. This is what our workres, MLAs and people expect,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi Steps Down
Rahul hints Rajasthan CM issue settled.

He said winning elections in the three Hindi heartland states was a big achievement and that it all started with a strong performance of the Congress in Gujarat under Gandhi’s leadership.

“(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (BJP President) Amit Shah have lost their aura. They have not been able to recover due to which we won elections in the three states,” he said.

Gehlot had played an active role in formulating the party’s campaign strategy in Gujarat.

Both Pilot and Gehlot had separate meetings with Gandhi on Thursday.

The meetings came hours after the leadership issue was settled in Madhya Pradesh, with Gandhi tweeting his picture with Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who were both chief ministerial aspirants.

The picture — akin to the one on Friday — carried the line “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time – Leo Tolstoy.”

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Party sources said Rahul Gandhi was keen to give a similar message for Rajasthan as well.

Both in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress missed the majority mark by two seats and is now dependent on external legislative support.

Pilot, who stayed put in Delhi on Thursday, appealed to party workers to maintain peace and that he would welcome any decision taken by the party.

Pilot reportedly has put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief. (IANS)