Political parties in Tamil Nadu, including former UPA ally DMK slammed the Centre on Saturday for clearing government's five per cent stake sale in Neyveli Lignite Corporation, saying the reasoning that the decision had been taken in line with Securities Exchange Board of India guidelines was not acceptable.
DMK president M Karunanidhi said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had already taken up the matter with the Centre even as he had expressed that the move to dilute stake will be inimical to the interests of workers.
He recalled his earlier statement saying the public sector undertaking was granted Navaratna status when his party colleague, the late Murasoli Maran, was Union Commerce Minister and that Centre will earn the opposition of the labour force with its proposal.
Centre had suspended an earlier decision in this regard when his government objected to the move in 2006 even as UPA's Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in 2004 had assured that profit-making PSUs will be under government control.
On yesterday's decision by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs clearing the sale of the stake, Karunanidhi said it had come as a "shock" to the workers of NLC who, he said, were preparing to strike work.
"Centre could argue that it had taken the decision based on (market regulator) SEBI mandating for 10 per cent of public shareholding of PSUs but government could bring amendments to exempt NLC from this," he said in a statement here.
The stake sale could fetch around Rs 466 crore which was not a big sum for Centre, Karunanidhi argued.
He urged Centre to drop the move to disinvest stake and asked it to consider the state government's opposition to the proposal, saying such moves earlier had been deferred.
PMK also slammed the move, with party's Youth wing chief and former Union Health Minister, Anbumani Ramadoss, asking Centre "not to kill the golden goose" for the Rs 466 crore that it would fetch. It will pave the way for complete disinvestment of NLC in the future, he claimed.
MDMK leader Vaiko said the decision was a 'betrayal' of the people of Tamil Nadu and expressed fears of increase in power tariff. He demanded withdrawal of the decision.