New Delhi, Aug. 23: Union power minister Suresh Prabhu today confirmed that he had submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but declined to say whether it had been accepted. Prabhu had reportedly angered Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for failing to do enough at the Centre to further the interests of the party or of Maharashtra.
Industry was sorry to see an honest minister go and wondered whether his departure would undermine the pace of reforms in the power sector. However, Prabhu’s junior colleague—Jayawantiben Mehta—was less than charitable in acknowledging his contribution and credited the late P. Rangarajan Kumaramangalam with all the progress till date on power sector reforms. Digressing from her prepared speech, Mehta arbitrarily dedicated the “International conference on Strategies for Energy Conservation in the New Millennium,” to the memory of the late Kumaramangalam in what was clearly a thinly-disguised attempt to gloss over the Prahhu interregnum.
Mehta said the Energy Conservation Act and Power Trading Corporation had been conceptualised by Kumaramangalam and he had set the benchmark for power reforms in the country.
Industry leaders at a Ficci seminar today felt that Prabhu’s contribution had been no less since he was instrumental in driving the pace on power reforms. “The minister of state seems to have forgotten that Suresh Prabhu has given a vision to the power sector. While the efforts of Kumaramangalam or for that matter all former power ministers in reforming the sector cannot be denied, the special efforts taken by Prabhu to implement them and obtain results makes him different. His departure will certainly be a setback,” said a senior executive of a private power company on the sidelines of the seminar.
Most domestic players shared the same view while the Ficci felt that there will be a ‘short-term setback’ due to Prabhu’s resignation. “If we have been able to launch a national campaign for energy conservation, it is because of the untiring efforts of Prabhu,” Ficci president R. S. Lodha said.