New Delhi: Coming out in strong opposition to the PSU disinvestment programme of the Modi government for companies like Air India, BSNL and BPCL, RSS affiliate, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has slammed the move, saying that "strategic sales can be misused by corrupt officials to benefit special business houses".
The SJM's national committee has passed a resolution opposing the strategic sale of these PSUs.
"India should not sell its national assets to multinationals. The present plan of disinvestment is the result of conspiracies of some consultants, bureaucrats affected by some business houses," it said.
The SJM has demanded that the NITI Aayog's report on public sector enterprises should be rejected, and stressed the "need to examine the evaluation of PSEs keeping in mind the idea of doubling GDP in the next five years and accelerating it in the respective years".
"This report is the work of vested interests of some advisors, they should be kept away from this work. The new report should be created with a new set of people who are not only free from prior assumptions, but have open views to consider Indian needs," the resolution said.
The SJM also expressed the view that that doing business is not the business of the government, but in the name of disinvestment, "we oppose the scheme of handing over national assets to multinational corporations and corporate houses".
On the sale of BPCL, SJM said that Saudi Aramco is eyeing its assets after India announced divestment of the oil marketing company.
"This is not only unacceptable but also dangerous. Property created with national sentiments and hard work should not be held in the possession of foreign oil companies. The purchase of BPCL will only be a number for them to increase their wealth. Strategic sales are becoming strategic purchases for multinationals," the RSS affiliate said, strongly condemning the government policy.
The resolution emphasised that there are many PSUs like Air India, and BSNL which are necessary for the strategic needs of the country. These PSUs can be improved again and efforts need to be made to accomplish this, it urged.
The SJM, which claimed its pushback as a reason for the government backtracking on the RCEP trade deal, said that there is a need for a large public deliberation and debate on the ways and timing of selling government equity.
It said the government should not fall into the Washington consensus trap and look for long-term solutions rather than selling equity to some corporate houses or multinationals.
SJM said that calling Air India a bad asset "is indeed painful and unfair". A developing country like India needs a national carrier keeping in mind the strategic and market balancing requirements, it added.
Similarly, the RSS affiliate said the strategic sales of the Shipping Corporation of India and the Container Corporation of India are also not prudent business decisions. Both these enterprises are not only in a much better shape, but are also necessary to implement the government's plan to further accelerate logistics for Indian industries, it said.
Attacking the Modi government policy on divestment, the SJM said collecting money by selling ownership and giving up future lifetime earnings will not be a wise business decision, especially when the government is saying that their tax collection is not meeting the target.
The resolution pointed out that a recent statement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman indicated that the government is going to mop up Rs 1 lakh crore by selling its equity in five PSUs. The government has already prepared another 28 PSUs, their subsidiaries and joint ventures for disinvestment.
The list includes the strategically important Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd (HAL), Pawan Hans, and the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC).