Centre robbing youth to help friends, says Congress
Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using the pandemic as an excuse to push for privatisation to rid central government offices of permanent staff and help “friends”.
The Congress leader tweeted in Hindi with a smattering of English: “Modi government’s thinking: Minimum Govt, Maximum Privatisation. Covid is just an excuse. The intention is to free government offices of permanent staff, steal the future of youths and help ‘friends (mitron)’ progress.”
The Congress MP was responding to the finance ministry’s circular on Friday night elaborating on measures to curtail expenditure in the wake of the unprecedented economic slide post-lockdown. Rahul, who has been relentless in keeping up pressure on the Prime Minister by accusing him of working for crony capitalists, also shared a news report on the decision.
The Congress has formally demanded the withdrawal of the circular, which freezes the creation of new posts and even filling of vacancies.
The circular addressed to all ministries and departments says: “There will be a ban on the creation of new posts, except with the approval of the Department of Expenditure, in Ministries/Departments, Attached Offices, Subordinate Offices, Statutory Bodies and Autonomous Bodies. This ban will cover all creation of posts under powers which have been delegated to any organisation regardless of the source of such authority or power.
“If any posts have been created after 01.07.2020 under delegated powers or authority, without approval of the Department of Expenditure and have not yet been filled, then such posts shall not be filled.”
The Congress expressed shock at the circular. Party spokesperson Rajeev Shukla said at a news conference that the government was stopping recruitment instead of creating more jobs.
On Friday, the Opposition party had accused the government of collecting crores in recruitment exam fees although it has either not held any test or not given out appointment letters in years.
Rahul has now offered another perspective to the finance ministry’s decision by linking it to a purported plan to maximise privatisation. There has been a storm of protests against the plans for privatisation, particularly in the railways and the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). The management of many key airports and railway platforms are also being handed over to private entities.
While the Congress has expressed anger at the proposal to sell profit-making public sector units such as Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, LIC, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India and the Container Corporation of India, party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Saturday tweeted: “A new list of what Modi wants to sell is ready: national highways, main lines of Power Grid, pipe network of Gas Authority of India and Indian Oil Corporation, Delhi Metro, Calcutta Metro, Freight Corridor, BSNL-MTNL towers, tourism, railways… All the assets built over the last 70 years will be sold.”
The disinvestment targets have not been met in the past few years but the massive dip in GDP growth may compel the government to push this agenda with greater force.
While the mismanagement of the pandemic, massive dislocation of migrant workers, rising employment and the Chinese intrusions have indisputably generated much unease across the country, even the states are unhappy with the Centre over its inability to offer financial assistance. The Prime Minister’s resilience could be tested in the days to come as he intends to push for privatisation.
The hail of “dislikes” and hostile comments to the Prime Minister’s videos over the past few days is a measure of the simmering anger across the country.
Many had alleged that the “like-dislike” buttons on certain BJP and government-linked social media platforms had been disabled for some time, with people viewing this as an indication that the party was on the back foot for the first time in six years.
Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh told The Telegraph: “Modi’s arrogance is a mask to cloak deep insecurities.”