With the soaring fuel prices triggering a political slugfest, NewsX managed to get some exclusive time with Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan at Dahej Port in Gujarat, far away from the political heat in New Delhi. Unfazed by the opposition’s slamming the government, Pradhan appeared calm and focused and hinted at an early resolution to increasing fuel prices.
He attacked the opposition, especially the Congress for “misguiding citizens”. He said the Congress, during its rule, had left the petroleum ministry “near bankrupt and debt-ridden”. He took a jibe at former Union Minister P Chidambaram for giving “price reducing tips” saying, “where was he in UPA when his government left a nearly Rs 50,000 crore debt in petroleum ministry?”
On moving to gas-based economy as the future answer to India’s growing energy demand, he took NewsX and India News Senior Executive Editor Maneesh Pandey to the LNG cargo ship that had arrived from Russia to show the diversification in energy basket, both in source and supply.
On gas-based economy as the future, Pradhan said already the Modi government has started to give a major thrust to use of gas in power, fertilisers, agriculture and allied sectors. “It is cheap and clean and as we use more of it in households and vehicles in city and rural segments, it will usher in a new era of gas-based living and economic model.”
He said India currently uses 6-7% gas in energy consumption index while the world’s average is 24%. Interestingly Gujarat is ahead of world average as its gas consumption is near 26%. He credited that to PM Modi’s vision and thinking while his term as state CM. Today PM Modi has fixed a new target for gas production, supply and consumption, where India wants to touch 15% of gas consumption as part of total energy basket available.
While speaking of the social benefits of ensuring cooking gas supply to poor families, he attributed it to PM Narendra Modi’s development model for the poor and marginalised. “We stand for development of all and the poor must be core beneficiaries,” Pradhan asserted.
Asked about the opposition starting to unite against the BJP for 2019, Pradhan said, “The opposition is very impatient, but it will have to wait as it will be PM Modi vs the rest again in 2019 and we’ll win again.”
Here’s the full video interview: