Now, Congress Takes a Left Turn on Disinvestment
NEW DELHI: That the Congress is taking a left-of-the-center turn burying the two-decade old Manmohanomics has often been speculated about in the recent months, but the stance taken by the party during the debates on general budget and Railway budget, particularly in the Lok Sabha, increasingly makes it an evident fact.
It was also said that the choice of Mallikarjun Kharge with well-known links to the trade union movement as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha over senior most parliamentarian Kamal Nath was much to do with the same left turn of the grand old party.
Still it remained in the realm of analysis and speculation that the Congress was finally junking the Manmohan-legacy to sharp its differences with the ruling side and will not be backing the pro-economic reform Bill that it brings. However, on Thursday the shift in strategy became open with newly-inducted Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda attacking the Modi Government’s PSU ‘disinvestment’ plan to bridge the fiscal deficit, making the Congress briefing sound like a Left party press conference. Not just opposing the hints of disinvestment emanating from the government and the annexure of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget, Gowda insinuated that the Opposition has to be “extremely vigilant” as some “sweetheart deals”, in the name of public sector disinvestment, could be in the offing.
“Part-time Finance Minister, who is also the part-time Defence Minister, has set large disinvestment targets to meet the deficit. If disinvestment and NDA are juxtaposed, then a lot of questions arise,” Gowda said.
He alleged that during the earlier NDA Government, several state-owned hotels were sold at a fraction of the cost and Videsh Sanchar Niger Ltd was sold without valuing its assets including undersea cables and land.
“We may end up with the same kind of disinvestment,” Gowda said.
The Finance Ministry is reportedly planning to hit the market to sell a five per cent stake in SAIL by October, which would be followed by a 10 per cent stake dilution in Coal India.