Petrol Dealers Allege They Were Told to Put Up Modi Photos or Face a Supply Block

The advisory was reportedly delivered verbally by officials from state-owned oil marketing companies.

New Delhi: Petrol pump operators have reportedly verbally been told by state-owned oil marketing companies that they must display images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on billboards, and those who refused are being threatened with supply blockages.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) have issued these advisories, The Hindu reported. According to the newspaper, the order is being communicated through officials visiting each petrol pump, and the suggested photos include an advertisement for Modi’s flagship LPG for BPL families scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

“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) told The Hindu.

Speaking to The Print, an official from IOCL denied any move to cut off supplies. “No OMC has threatened to choke supply as the dealers are alleging. Also, the fact that many are saying that the petrol pumps are being used to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photographs is incorrect. What we are doing is promoting the schemes. Now many of the schemes have been initiated by this government and therefore have his photograph. So, while promoting the schemes, his photograph automatically comes up. There is nothing more to it,” said the official.

In July, it had been reported that public sector undertakings in the oil and power sectors had started aggressive campaigns to publicise the Modi government’s flagship schemes. As a part of this, IOCL had issued a Rs 2.93 billion tender for outdoor publicity for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

Recently, the CIPD had protested when OMCs asked for personal biodata of staff members, saying that the government was profiling people 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,” Gogi told The Hindu.

The OMCs had in June asked for the employees’ biographical details, marital status, mobile number, name of father/guardian, Aadhaar number, religion, caste, contact number, email address, number of years of experience, education level and bank information, the newspaper reported.

An OMC official told The Hindu that these details were sought for the Recognition of Prior Learning scheme under the skill development ministry. The CIPD said revealing these details would be a violation of employees’ fundamental rights.