New Delhi: Oil public sector undertakings (PSUs) are set to hold another national convention on February 9 to chalk out the future plan of resistance against the strategic sale of BPCL (Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited). All the PSUs in the oil sector — Indian Oil, HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited), ONGC (Oil & Natural Gas Corporation) and MRPL (Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited) — are expected to take part in the convention.
The epicentre of the third national convention against BPCL sale is Kochi in Kerala. Kochi is home to India's biggest oil refinery, which is owned by BPCL, and has been the hotbed of protests against the disinvestment drive. Commenting on the matter, Praveen Kumar P, general secretary of Cochin Refineries Employees Association (CREA), said, "The date of the convention is important because it marks 100 days of protests against BPCL sale. The convention will see the convergence of political leaders like former Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, Rajya Sabha member Tapan Sen, and union leaders from trade unions affiliated to all major political parties. Important decisions with respect to the future course of action will also be taken at the convention."
Aji MG, general secretary of BPCL's Kochi refinery's workers' association, said, "The third national convention is going to be bigger than the other three, especially because over the past few months, the government has clearly conveyed that it is not ready to budge even by an inch." Weighing in on the matter, Kumar added, "Despite the fact that employees have been protesting for close to 100 days now, the government has made no effort to reach out to us. Or to take us into confidence. We have not had a single meeting with them. In the meanwhile, news reports have claimed that Indian Oil could put in a bid for BPCL. But we consider these reports as propaganda and we are not going to fall for it." The day will see a meeting of petroleum trade union delegates in the morning and in the second half of the day, an open mass convention will take place in Ernakulam where political leaders, including Chandy, will take part. A rally will also be taken out from DH Ground to Rajendra Maidan in Ernakulam on the same day, Kumar said.
The government is looking to raise Rs 1.05 lakh crores from disinvestment by the end of this financial year and it is expecting to raise a sizeable chunk of the overall target from BPCL sale. The financial bids for the privatisation of BPCL opened on November 27, 2019. However, the government is yet to release the bid document. The probable contenders in the race include Reliance Industries, and global players like Saudi Aramco, Total, Exxon Mobil, among others.