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Disinvestment: BMS holds pan-India protests, says govt can’t sell PSUs to bridge fiscal deficit

The BMS held pan-India demonstrations on Thursday to demand an immediate stop to the Centre’s ambitious PSU disinvestment, privatisation and asset monetisation policy
Disinvestment: BMS holds pan-India protests, says govt can’t sell PSUs to bridge fiscal deficit
Disinvestment: BMS holds pan-India protests, says govt can’t sell PSUs to bridge fiscal deficit
  • The organisation lambasted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for resorting to a policy of selling PSUs to bridge its fiscal deficit and raise revenues
  • The BMS said that the idea of Atmanirbharta, or self-reliance, cannot go hand-in-hand with a PSU disinvestment, privatisation policy

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which is an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, held pan-India demonstrations on Thursday to demand an immediate stop to the Centre’s ambitious PSU disinvestment, privatisation and asset monetisation policy, terming it as being against national interest. The organisation lambasted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for resorting to a policy of selling PSUs to bridge its fiscal deficit and raise revenues. Accusing the government of double-talk, the BMS said that the idea of Atmanirbharta, or self-reliance, cannot go hand-in-hand with a policy that seeks to privatise public sector companies.

“These sectors were started after independence with the aim to make India self-reliant. It seems to be a cruel irony that today even after more than 70 years of independence, when the Prime Minister of India talks about making India self-reliant, his government takes the decision of subsiding (dismantling) one of the strongest pillars of the development of the country, ie, public sectors (sic.),” the BMS said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

‘Disinvestment, privatisation of public sector will be a catastrophe’

While asserting that PSUs have proven themselves again and again as the backbone of the country by constructively and tirelessly contributing towards infrastructure growth, supplying essential services to the masses, providing essential support to the defence sector and providing uninterrupted supply of energy across the country, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, the BMS warned the government that letting go of public sector companies can prove to be a catastrophe.

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“We are hopeful that the government will come out of the trap of its predatory advisers, who have blindsided the government. From the past, it is clear that the government is not working in an unbiased manner and (is) misunderstanding its foe as friend,” said the BMS in the letter. The BMS also accused the government of working in cahoots with industrialists in deciding to let go of the public sector.

‘Asset monetisation is welcome only if benefits PSUs’

Speaking to PSU Watch, Girish Arya, All India Secretary of BMS’ Public Sector Coordination Committee, said that the organisation would welcome asset monetisation of PSUs only if it adds to the revenue of the PSUs whose assets are being monetised. “If a profitable power transmission line of Power Grid is monetised and Rs 20,000 crore is realised from the deal, the revenue should go to the PSU, which may use it for further funding its capital expenditure. But if the government means to sell off PSU assets and lay a claim over the revenue realised in the process, then we will staunchly oppose this decision because it is not in national interest,” said Arya.

In Budget 2021-22, the government had clearly stated its intention to monetise PSU assets, including pipelines of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), transmission lines of Power Grid, airports operated by Airports Authority of India (AAI), Railway stations, among others. The Centre, which is staring at a massive fiscal deficit in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, is looking to the public sector to bolster its revenues.

BMS warns, will intensify stir if govt doesn’t stop privatisation

While insisting that the BMS wants to hold a dialogue with the government to find alternative solutions, Arya said that the organisation has always believed in sangharsh and samwaad (struggle and dialogue). “We believe in sangharsh aur sanwaad. We want the government to invite us for a dialogue. We want to hear the government’s perspective and why they have chosen to undertake such a widespread disinvestment, privatisation of PSUs, and we are ready to come up with alternative solutions. We are ready to support the government.”

He added, “However, if the government ignores us, then BMS will plan a more intense and a long-drawn agitation against its policies.” A decision in this regard is likely to be taken at a three-day conference of BMS’ national office-bearers which is scheduled to take place in Guwahati between November 12 and 14.

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