HYDERABAD: Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, has accused the ruling BJP government at the Centre of engaging in a "buying and selling" spree. On the one hand, it is buying MLAs and MPs, and on the other it is selling the precious government undertakings to its beloved corporate sector units, he said here on Friday.
Kharge criticised the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) policy of the Centre and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is adopting a “payback” policy towards his corporate mentors.
“PM Modi has decided to return the benefit to corporates for the support they gave him, by selling public sector properties,” he said, adding the monetisation policy as announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman last month will put the lives of the common man at risk.”
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Kharge said the Congress party will fight against the monetisation of public assets. The policy to be implemented by the central ministries and public sector units would directly affect a larger section of the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, he said.
He said Modi also aimed to do away with the reservations. This will result in the downtrodden people losing their employment opportunities as also political opportunities, he said.
Intellectuals are turning silent over the monetization pipeline plan. Unable to challenge the “undemocratic attitude” of Modi, various sections of people are opting to remain silent and not questioning the “anti-people” policies of this government, he said.
The BJP, he said, is simultaneously buying the elected representatives of other parties to sing its tune. The Congress has a majority in several states, but the BJP purchased MLAs and formed its governments, he said.
Replying to a question, Mallikarjun Kharge said the “buying and selling” policy of the BJP is not a success mantra for the long-term. “Modi is becoming a corporate buddy and favoring them in all aspects by putting the nation at grave risk.”
The Congress party is trying its level best to spread awareness among the people on the monetisation of public sector assets. “Our voice is not reaching the people due to curbs effected by the BJP government on a section of the media too,” he stated.
Addressing a press conference along with TPCC president Revanth Reddy at Gandhi Bhavan on Friday, Kharge pointed out that finance minister Sitharaman announced the NMP for orgnising Rs 6 lakh crore in funds over a period of four years from fiscal 2022 to 2025, to give a boost to national infrastructure.
This plan includes selling off of 26,700km of roads for Rs 1.6 lakh crore, 400 rail stations and rail tracks for Rs 1.5 lakh crore, power transmission lines worth Rs 45,200 crore, power generation plants worth Rs 39,832 crore and many other sectors, he explained.
In a break from convention, strategic assets like roads and railways have been listed for privatization. Disinvestment has been a continuous process spanning three decades. There has been a bipartisan consensus on the need for the government to retain control over assets in the strategic sector. The NMP reverses years of established policy without any objective criterion, Kharge said.
Reacting to Modi’s allegation that nothing was done by previous governments during the last 70 years, he said, “The fact is that the BJP is getting ready to earn Rs 6 lakh crore by the selling national assets that were created by the previous Congress governments. Jawaharlal Nehru promoted a mixed economy -- public, private, cooperative and joint economies -- for achieving economic development and social justice, he said.
Kharge said that India has a total of 366 PSUs employing 9.2 lakh regular employees and 4.98 lakh contractual employees. The Railways employs 12.53 lakh persons and the department of posts 4.18 lakh employees. If all these are sold off, what will be the future of these employees and their families, he asked.
He said the Congress had disinvested only chronically loss-making PSUs or those in non-strategic sectors. “Modi is selling the strategic sector PSUs like railways, defence, banking, insurance etc. These sectors are essential for the growth of the nation. Selling them off to private players with vested interests can weaken national security and the cause of nation-building,” he said.
Kharge said that of the 43.04 crore beneficiary accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana, only around 1.26 crore are with private banks. The rest of the 41.78 crore accounts are with public sector banks and regional rural banks. “If Modi privatizes all banks, the direct result will be that the poor people in the remote villages will be deprived of the benefits of banking,” he said.