RAE BARELI: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday lashed out at the Centre for its proposed corporatisation of the rail coach factory in Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli district, claiming that it would eventually lead to the unit's privatisation.
"The central government wants to mercilessly corporatise the rail coach factory," Priyanka Gandhi said while addressing the Modern Coach Factory employees who are on an agitation against the Union government's recent corporatisation plan.
"What does it mean? It means that after corporatisation, the next step will be giving it to the government's industrialist friends, leading to its privatisation," she told the employees, some of whom were donning black T-shirts with the slogan: 'Revoke corporatisation of MCF'.
Workers in the factory have been staging a protest ever since the Ministry of Railways has envisaged corporatisation of its seven production units and associated workshops under one entity called the Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company.
Rae Bareli MP Sonia Gandhi had raised the issue of corporatisation in the Lok Sabha on July 1, accusing the government of selling the country's assets to private players at a throwaway price.
"The reality is that the BJP wants to bring a new 'company raj', through which factories, PSUs, resources and money of the country are handed over to some selected industrialists," Priyanka Gandhi said.
"This is the only basis and thinking behind corporatisation."
"You have fears that it will be corporatised on August 31 (Saturday), after which it will be privatised and you will lose your jobs," the Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh said.
She pointed out that there were many industries in the country where the situation was the same, adding that the government was starting corporatisation and "privatisation" from the unit in Rae Bareli.
In a tweet, Priyanka Gandhi extended full support to the workers, saying the factory was a symbol of the sacrifice of farmers, struggles of the people and her mother Sonia Gandhi's commitment towards them.
"We stand with the movement of employees and workers. Congress will fight this battle from Parliament to the roads," she tweeted.
"This (the factory) has provided jobs to thousands of families. The BJP government, through its corporatisation, is taking the first step towards handing it over to private companies." Priyanka Gandhi also hit out at the government over the "weak" state of the economy in the country, saying she had seen advertisements of job losses due to the situation.
"You must be aware of the economic condition. Must have read it in newspapers, though our media friends do not say much," she said.
"But I have seen advertisements of mill associations, tea garden associations that we are drowning and save us. Advertisements are being given that the economy is so weak, jobs are going out of hand."
"And it has dawned on the central government that where the factory production is double, corporatise it and privatise it," she said.
"You can think what their intention is." The Congress leader underlined that big institutions like the railways and public sector units (PSUs) were set up for strengthening and uniting the nation for development and employment.
"If one by one they are damaged, you can think what the future will be," she said.
Priyanka Gandhi also recalled the association of her mother with the people of Rae Bareli and her role in setting up the factory.
"When this factory was announced in 2007 and the then state government had refused land for it, she (Sonia Gandhi) struggled with the people here for setting up this factory," Priyanka Gandhi said.
"She struggled for employment to the people of Rae Bareli and for strengthening the economy here." The Congress leader said Sonia Gandhi used to come to Rae Bareli to see the progress of the factory work.
"I know how happy she was when this factory was set up, not for herself or her political interest, but for you all that it will create employment not just in the factory, but also in the surrounding areas," Priyanka Gandhi said.
Over 2,000 people work in the factory besides others in the surrounding areas, she said, claiming that the factory was running in profit now and its production was double than its capacity.
Earlier in the day, Priyanka Gandhi visited the residence of Congress MLA from Rae Bareli, Aditi Singh, whose father Akhilesh Singh had passed away on August 19.