Days before Budget, Sonia Gandhi red flags ‘corporatisation’ of PSUs

New Delhi, :  Three days before the presentation of Budget 2019-20, UPA chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday cautioned the government against corporatisation and privatisation policy and said what is happening with units like HAL and MTNL is known to all.
“…..HAL aur MTNL ke saath kya ho raha hae, yeh kisi se chhiipa nahi hae (What is happening with MTNL and HAL is not hidden from anyone),” Ms Gandhi said in Lok Sabha raising during Zero Hour issue.
She also lashed out at the Modi government for doing away with the presentation of a separate Railway Budget in parliament.
“Presenting Railway Budget in Parliament separately was a unique and old tradition. Why this government has done away with this system?,” Ms Gandhi said amid thumping of desks by her party colleagues.
Ms Gandhi opposed the privatisation and corporatisation process of public sector undertakings especially under Railways.
“There are talks about ‘company-karan (corporatisation) of six railway units. These also include the modern coach factory in Rae Bareli…..Corporatisation is actually the beginning of privatisation,” Ms Gandhi said.
“I urge the government to give full protection to the Rae Bareli Rail Coach factory and other public sector units,” she said.

It is perhaps one of the rare occasions that Ms Gandhi had made use of Zero Hour privilege. In 2011 during the height of Anna Hazare movement, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had made zero hour remarks when Meira Kumar was the Lok Sabha Speaker.
Sonia Gandhi said country’s first Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru had taken steps to modernise the public sector units and called them ‘temples of modern India’.
“Aaj yeh dekhkar afsos hota hae ki is tarah se jada tar mandir khatrey mein hae (Today, we note with utter sadness that most of these temples are under severe threat)”.
Ms Gandhi was today the first speaker during Zero Hour in the House. The ‘Zero-hour’ is considered a significant parliamentary time especially in the Lok Sabha which came into existence when Janata Dal leader from Odisha Rabi Ray was the Speaker in 1989.
The idea is to enable elected member raise “urgent issues” that require the attention of the House and the government.
While dictionary defines ‘Zero Hour’ as the “the critical moment”, in parliamentary parlance, it is referred as the time gap between the end of Question Hour and the beginning of the regular business. But in Lok Sabha, the chair allows laying of papers at around 12 noon after the stipulated Question Hour and then gives time to members for raising issues of public importance.
In the context of the government policy towards ‘company-karan (corporatisation)’, Sonia Gandhi suggested that the ‘collective voice’ of the House should be made use of to scrutinize the manner in which the government is bent upon handing over railway units to private players.
She sought to remind the government that the chief purpose of all public sector units is ‘lok kalyan (serving the interests of common people)’.
“……Niji puji patiyo ka labh pahuchana nahi hae (The intent of PSUs is not to help private houses make profit),” She remarked even as some opposition members thumped desks repeatedly.
Ms Gandhi accused the government of trying to help a few select private players (kucch khas puji patiyon) by jeopardising the future of some of the public sector units.


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