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Sell-off: Naik seems to echo PM views

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Oct. 17

THE Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, who is viewed as a stumbling block to the sell-off of HPCL and BPCL, on Thursday echoed the views of the Prime Minister, Mr Vajpayee, who had said a decision would be taken within three months.

Mr Naik's statement appears to be at variance with that of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, who had said a decision on disinvestment would be taken only after three months. At a Cabinet Committee meeting on disinvestment on September 7, it was decided to put off a decision on the sell-off of HPCL and BPCL.

Considering the conflicting views on disinvestments within the Government, Mr Naik's remarks on Thursday were encouraging for the stock prices of both HPCL and BPCL to move up by close to 3-4 per cent.

At a press meet here, Mr Naik said, "The Prime Minister had (on September 7) announced that a decision (on BPCL and HPCL) would be taken within three months. There is still one and half months left.

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