New Delhi, Dec. 6: The compromise formula worked out by the Centre on the privatisation of oil majors HPCL and BPCL was welcomed by the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch that said its concerns were taken care of.
“These are positive signals which are a deviation from the past and we hope the same spirit will continue,” said convener Murlidhar Rao, reacting to reports of a consensus having emerged within the government on the disinvestment of public sector units. The reported decision to disinvest government equity in BPCL through a public issue was to the manch’s “satisfaction” because the government would continue to remain the single largest shareholder, he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a seminar here, Rao added that the security-related concerns raised by the manch, the RSS and a section of the BJP when the issue of privatising HPCL and BPCL arose had been “answered” by retaining the government’s control over BPCL.
The other aspect that apparently satisfied the manch was the Centre’s reported decision to allow state-owned undertakings like Gail and ONGC to bid for public stake in HPCL.
Rao maintained that the manch had so far opposed disinvestment because it felt the process was not “transparent”.
“We were not getting correct value for our assets and a lot of negative propaganda by the government was resulting in devaluation of the assets,” he said, adding that the sale of Modern Foods and IPCL had “facilitated” the creation of private monopolies.
The convener alleged that it had been “established” that undervaluation had taken place in various cases, including Balco and VSNL.
Claiming that the manch was not opposed to disinvestment per se, Rao urged the government to consider social security and overall productivity before taking a decision.
“If disinvestment is for the benefit of a few, we will oppose it,” he said.