Shaking their head in disbelief, dealers operating petrol pump express their utmost surprise on receiving received a verbal advisory from state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) to put up pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Almost all state run OMCs like Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) have asked the dealers to arrange the display ahead of the 2019 elections.
The instructions are being conveyed by area officers of the companies, who visit the retail outlets, according to the dealers.
“They are asking us to display the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in retail outlets and those who refuse are threatened with blocking of supplies” S.S. Gogi, president, Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers (CIPD) disclosed to media.
The suggested displays include one on the scheme to provide LPG connections to Below Poverty Line families.
The dealer consortium said there were no written communications, and all instructions were coming verbally from the territory manager and sales officers of the companies.
It is important to note that CIPD earlier was on the wrong side of the government when they refused to share personal data of its employees with the oil companies. It is alleged that the government was profiling their employees on caste and religious lines.
“They are asking for sensitive personal information like caste, religion and constituency of the employees. Such data collection by the government is a breach of privacy. We are going to court,” said Mr. Gogi.
The personal data was sought through a form sent to the dealers in the first week on June 2018.
The questions in the form sought biographical details, marital status, mobile number, name of father/guardian, Aadhaar number, religion, caste, contact number, email address, number of years of experience and education level, besides bank information.
On June 11, CIPD wrote a letter of protest to OMCs describing the initiative as a violation of fundamental rights.
The Petrol Pump Dealers Association of Punjab even issued a legal notice to senior executives of IOCL, HPCL and BPCL on the issue.
However, when contacted OMC official said that the information was sought as the government required it for the Recognition of Prior Learning scheme under the PM’s Skill Development Ministry.