A hoarding on the Centre’s Ujjwala LPG scheme with the PM’s picture at a fuel outlet in Karnataka.A hoarding on the Centre’s Ujjwala LPG scheme with the PM’s picture at a fuel outlet in Karnataka.

Consortium representing them says refusal to display PM’s picture is inviting threat of blocked supplies

Dealers operating petrol pumps have received a verbal advisory from state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) to put up pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at their retail outlets, triggering a protest.

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.

“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.

The instruction is being conveyed by area officers of the companies, who visit the retail outlets, according to the dealers. The suggested displays include one on the scheme to provide LPG connections to Below Poverty Line families. The dealer consortium said there was no written communication, and instructions were coming from the territory manager and sales officers of the companies.

Staff bio-data sought

Recently, the CIPD refused to share personal data of its employees with the oil companies, and many of them alleged that the government was profiling them on caste and religious lines.

The personal data was sought through a form sent to the dealers in the first week on June. “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 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 has issued a legal notice to senior executives of IOCL, HPCL and BPCL on the issue.

An OMC official confirmed that the information was sought as the government required it for the Recognition of Prior Learning scheme under the PM’s Skill Development Ministry. The OMCs did not respond to an email sent on Thursday.