Tuesday, July 05, 2022

PM Modi selling India's crown jewels, NMP will create monopoly

IANS | August 25, 2021 10:50 AM

NEW DELHI: A day after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the government's four-year National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) worth Rs 6 lakh crore, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of bringing the process of selling the "crown jewel" assets built by his party in last 70 years.

He also contended that the Congress is not opposing the privatisation process but "the entire NMP is designed to create a monopoly".

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters along with former Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram, Gandhi said: "The Prime Minister and the BJP said that the Congress had done nothing in last 70 years. There is a list here of all the assets that the Congress has helped build using the public money."

"Now the Prime Minister is in the process of selling the crown jewels of this country."

Listing out the sectors which are going to be privatised, Gandhi said that these are being sold and one can guess to whom it is going.

"And frankly, these will go to three to four people," he said.

Announcing the measure on Monday, Sitharaman had said it is to unlock value in brownfield projects by engaging the private sector, transferring to them the rights but not the ownership in projects, and using the funds for infrastructure creation across the country.

But assailing the government, Gandhi said: "I want to tell the youths, your employment has been snatched, for farmers, three special farm laws have been made. And today I want to say what Prime Minister plans to give to his industrialist friends."

This, he claimed, comprises 26,700 km of national highways worth Rs 1.6 lakh crore, Rs 1.5 lakh crore in railways with 400 railways stations, 150 private trains, railway tracks and warehouses. He further said that 42,300 circuit km of transmission network, 6,000 MW power generation, solar wind assets from NHPC, NTPC and NLC, and 8,000 km of national gas pipeline of GAIL are all going to be privatised among others.

He, however, said that the Congress is not against privatisation.

"We had logic behind privatisation," he said, adding that the industries, which were chronically loss-making and the companies with minimal market share were privatised.

"And the sectors where there were risk of private sector monopoly, we decided not to sell. But this entire scheme is designed to create monopoly," he alleged.

"All the sectors that I have named are there to bring monopoly. We say do privatisation but not at the cost of loss to the country," he said.

"I had warned about Covid and you all made fun of me. When this starts your chances of getting employment will be less. The assets of India are being sold and it is an attack on your future," he said, adding that the Prime Minister is not working for India but "for three or four people".

The Congress leader also charged the government of mishandling the country's economy.

He alleged that the Prime Minister is for the elimination of the informal sector", and creation of monopolies in the formal sector.

"This is huge part of what is going on here and when you see - airports are going to the same person, ports going to the same person, everything is going to 2 or 3 or 4 people, you are seeing the development of monopolies.

"The creation of monopolies in this country is extremely dangerous for this country. We have dealt earlier with the monopoly in India, it used to be called the East India Company. It enslaved this country...," he said.

Chidambaram said: "This is a grand closing down sale. Virtually there would not be any public sector undertakings left after the proposed 'roads to railways' monetisation plan of the BJP government."

"The government should have spelt out what its criteria and goals were. You don't embark upon such a big exercise without first setting out the criteria and what your goals are," he said.

"Raising funds cannot be sole goal for selling assets built over 70 years. All stakeholders including employees, worker unions, farmers must be consulted before embarking on such large sale of assets.

"This is all hatched in secrecy in this wonderful organisation called NITI Aayog. And the only thing that I could glean from the Finance Minister's press conference is and from the reports in your media, is we are going to raise money! Can that be a goal by itself? We are going to raise Rs 1.5 lakh crore a year for four years. Can that be sole goal to virtually sell assets built over 70 years?" he asked.

Earlier, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had hit out at the Centre, alleging that the government is giving the "jumla of Aatmanirbhar" but has made the country dependent on its "billionaire friends".

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