NEW DELHI: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday slammed the government on the issue of the corporatisation of railway’s Modern Coach Factory in her constituency Rae Bareli. In her maiden speech in the 17th Lok Sabha, Sonia accused the government of selling the country’s assets to private players at throwaway prices and also expressed concerns over the condition of some public sector undertakings, including HAL, BSNL and MTNL.
“Those who don’t understand the real meaning of corporatisation.... It is actually the first step towards privatisation. They are selling the country’s assets to a handful of private players at a throwaway price. This will leave thousands of people unemployed,” she said. It was a rare occasion when Sonia spoke during the Zero Hour in the Lower House.
She was referring to a proposal by the railway ministry to hive off seven of its production units and associated workshops into a new government-owned entity — Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company. The move is said to be part of an overall strategy to corporatise the functioning of the organisation.
She said the MCF was the most modern factory of the Indian Railways and manufactured the best coaches at the cheapest rates. “The government has invested heavily in it. It is difficult to understand why the government wants to resort to corporatization,” she added. The UPA chairperson hinted that the factory was chosen for the move as it was set up by the Congress-led UPA government to boost manufacturing.
The Railways later rejected the charge and said the factory will remain under government control. “What railways means by corporatisation is making a government PSU, the Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company, under the Ministry of Railways and shifting the production units including MCF, Rae Bareli to it,” a railway official said.
Sonia also criticised the government for stopping the practise of having a separate railway budget. “Can we not expect parliamentary scrutiny for such types of decisions,” she said.