A Dialogue with Ram Naik

Mr. Ram Naik is a candid politician and true nationalist who believes that leadership is not all about verbal dynamism but also an intention and enthusiasm of doing constructive work for the people. The Analyst World Team had a very deep and insightful discussion with him on current political volatility in nation.

AKSHAY MEHTA: Being a prominent leader of BJP and a former Cabinet Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, would you like to share with us the ‘ups and downs’ you faced throughout your political career?

RAM NAIK: As far as the ups and downs are concerned, I would like to tell you in brief about my transition from a middle class person to being a minister. I came to Bombay in 1954 to work in an account general’s office, after completing B.com from Pune. In Bombay, I joined K.C. Law College.

After completing law, I joined Khira’s steel company. I, then got my first political breakthrough when I joined Bhartiya Jan Sangh(BJS) as a full time member. From 1969-1974, I worked as a head organizational department of BJS in Mumbai. However, during the emergency period (1975-1977), BJS suffered a setback as many of its leaders were arrested.

After emergency, BhatiyaJanata Party (BJP) was formed by merging BJS, Socialist Party and Congress Organization(CO). So, this is how I became a part of BJP. Earlier there was a rule in BJP that organizational head could not contest election, however due to lack of leaders I was asked to contest.

In 1978 I contested for assembly from Borivalli, Mumbai. I was MLA for three terms (1978, 1980 and 1985). I became the president of Mumbai Unit of BJP in 1980 and during the first Party session or Maha-Adhiveshan I presided as the Swagat-Adhyaksh. Then 1989, I won the LokSabha election with a record vote difference of 89,000 in Mumbai. I was a member of parliament for 5 terms (1989,1991,1996,1998,1999) For the first three terms, I was in the opposition. But, then in 1998 I was in charge of 5 ministries

–       Planning And Programme Implemention,

–       Home Ministry,

–       Minister Of Railways and Chief Accountant,

From 1999-2004, I was the Petroleum Minister. I brought in a lot of innovations but most importantly I solved the matter of late energy deliveries and 8 crore pending orders of LPG. So, these were the achievements as far as ups are concerned. ( a nostalgic look on his face)….. Then in 2004, I was defeated in the elections by Govinda…. This was a setback as after being a 5 time minister I was not accepting this. But this was not due to the influence of Mr.Govinda, but at that time a political transformation took place in Maharahastra. This was the main reason of my defeat as I lost votes to a MNS candidate and he supported Congress, giving them a majority and thus Govinda became the member of Parliament.

This is by and large my political history. Even today I am active at Mumbai and constituency level.

AKSHAY MEHTA: What are your views on the schemes of the government, which are perhaps responsible for inflation. As we see a massive price rise in the basic commodities and a lot of suffering in the middle class families?

RAM NAIK: The country is facing 3 major problems- corruption, increasing prices and internal and external security. However, it is difficult to pin point the exact cause… I personally believe that increasing prices has hit hard on the common man. Another major issue of Indian economy is the depreciation of the rupee. It is a shame that in 1947 the rupee-dollar value stood at 1 to 1, and now it has gone 1 to 60 level. This shows that there has been no economical development throughout this transition. Added to this is the increasing import of petroleum products. which was 70% during our governance and has gone upto 80% today. This means our indigeneous production has gone down and as a result we have to pay a heavy foreign exchange.  So these are the basic issues on which we will fight the election this year.

RAVIKANT: The rise of oil mafia, the death of RTI activists and brutal killing of Krishnan Subhramaniam, What in your opinion precludes other national parties and Governement to speak on this issue?

RAM NAIK: (laughs)….How do we expect them to speak on issues where they themselves are at fault. It is our duty to highlight such issues. Basically, I think it is matter of internal security and corruption.

PRAGNESH PODDAR: (adds)…. Another important contribution of Mr. Ram Naik is the anti-adulteration Act…which was a program to crack down adulteration, parallel oil markets and mafia activities…..and the moment Mr. Ram Naik stepped out of the ministry, the new government dismantled the Anti-Adulteration Act.

RAM NAIK: (cuts in)…In the last 50 years of petroleum ministry (1963-2013)..I am the only petroleum minister who has stayed on for 5 years. This shows the instability in the energy department. The  Government never had any petroleum minister there for so many years. They are always hesitant of prolonging the tenure of ministers for obvious reasons.

PRAGNESH PODDAR: Also during Mr Ram Naik’s post minister’s tenure…it was a critical period where there was a global race to acquire oil assets. China and India were competing globally to acquire oil assets. At that period Mr Ravi Shankar Iyer goes out to acquire oil producing regions, and instead of striking any deal he goes to Andaman Islands and speaks ill about Indian freedom fighters who he doesn’t have a good opinion of. He didn’t acquire any oil reserves whereas China acquired Bay of Bengal and Eastern European regions .

AKSHAY MEHTA: Coming to the export generating policies of Gujarat, which has garnered a tremendous support from industrialists, businessmen, CEO’s and also the fact that BJP opposed the recent LBT. How do you see BJP playing this in the upcoming election?

RAM NAIK: In addition to the Octroi duty, sales tax and value-added tax, LBT is simply a burden to traders. As far as the balance of trade (BoT) is considered, imports are more than exports. Thus there is no surprise that Gujarat is getting all the support of industrialists and businessmen.

RAVIKANT: How do you see the joint venture of HPCL refinery in Barmer, the seeds of which were sown by BJP?

RAM NAIK: (laughs)….Because you are from Rajasthan you are raising this question. About Barmer everyone was sceptical about oil being there,but nobody could discover it. However, during our governance, we gave different blocks on competitive basis for exploration. As a result, oil was found to such an extent that 175000 barrels of oil is extracted daily. However, I am not in a position to comment on whether Rajasthan should get a refinery or not?

AKSHAY MEHTA: During the Vajpayee government, India produced many prominent leaders….. But now people are skeptical about the management and leadership of NDA as we see Nitish Kumar splitting from the party and Mr L.K. Advani’s resignation?

RAM NAIK: Yes, it is true that people are sceptical about the current issues in NDA, however there has been no change in leadership and except for Mr. Vajpayee (owing to his ill health) no one has left the party as such. There is also a difference between popularity and respectability. As far as party is concerned Mr.Advani is the most respected leader and whatever happened was really unfortunate.

RAVIKANT: These days the media sees the pseudo-seculars and Internet Hindus as a threat to democracy and indirectly link them to RSS and BJP. What is your message to them?

RAM NAIK: The media needs to be more responsible towards these sensitive issues… Infact it is not an issue at all ! The journalistic theory says that there is a difference between news and comments…but these days the media is mixing the both… Everyone is free to express his view and this is the true nature of democracy.

AKSHAY MEHTA: Your say on the charge of communalism on BJP-RSS. As there is a general feeling that BJP is a party goofed up between politics and ideology?

RAM NAIK: “It is like beating a dead horse”…These days laughter is better than frustration….Congress has been saying the same thing since Pandit Nehru’s time…. Congress initially banned RSS, but after it was proved in court that there was no criminal offence by RSS, they withdrew the ban. However they have kept saying the same thing for years. Inspite of that we have won elections in Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh etc…. Our ideology is based on our ancient culture which was established 5000 years ago. The charge of communalism has lost its relevance but still we are targeted on this baseless point.

PRAGNESH PODDAR: BJP is the only party who wanted the uniform civil code and the supreme court has pulled up congress many times for not doing anything to promote uniform civil code.

RAM NAIK: It is a joke that people who do not want uniform civil code are accusing us of communalism. We are not pro-hindutva. But we say that we will govern the nation on basis of rich long tradition and discipline of India.

RAVIKANT: Nitish Kumar, being a long member of the ally has just backed out of NDA. What are your views on that?

RAM NAIK: He must give a sound explanation for that. As far as BJP is considered there is no change in BJPs policy. Probably, he is thinking on communal basis that he will lose the muslim vote bank. Again caste plays an important role in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Actually everyone thinks caste is not the criteria but it is the criteria ! I personally think Mr. Kumar has gone wrong in his judgement.

AKSHAY MEHTA: Just to conclude, Sir your views on increasing popularity of NarendraModi and your message to youth as to why they should vote for BJP in the upcoming state and national elections.

RAM NAIK: NarendraModi’s popularity goes hand-in-hand with BJP. So we are happy that he is performing well. The message to the youth is that they have seen us perform well at municipal and panchayat elections and there is no reason why we won’t carry forward in the state and national level. Judge the party by its development and don’t think we have nothing to do with  politics as the future is dependent on you. Thank You

AKSHAY MEHTA/ RAVIKANT: Sir, it was a pleasure talking to you and wish you best of  luck for the upcoming elections..

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Google PlusCheck Our Feed