West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consult with experts and political parties over the economic crisis prevailing in the country. This comes after the central government laid off shares in some Private Sector Undertakings (PSUs). She stated that holding up funds by selling off government stake in central public sector firms can only provide temporary respite.
Mamata Banerjee said, “Our party stands against the disinvestment of PSUs. The government is also planning disinvestment of ordnance factory, BSNL, and Air India. Disinvestment of PSUs cannot be the ultimate solution as this move will temporarily solve the crisis as a stopgap measure but cannot bring economic stability in the long run. This will only lead to a more severe economic disaster. I feel that the Prime Minister must speak with experts on this, and if needed convene an all-party meeting,” speaking to reporters in Murshidabad.
On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet decided to cut shareholding in select public sector firms below 51 percent to boost revenue collections that have been hit by the slowing economy.
“This country belongs to all of us. The Centre will work as an elected government and we too will work as an elected government. In a positive sense, opinions of all political parties must be taken into account before taking such a decision. There should be no deterioration in employment opportunities. Today, there is no employment opportunities for youth,” said the chief minister.
“Disinvestment of PSUs is no solution. Earlier, the Centre had said only 45 PSUs will witness disinvestment but yesterday it was announced that several more will see disinvestments. The Centre is saying it will get Rs 1.80 lakh crore from this measure. But will it be enough to solve the problem? How many times such measures will be repeated? If that is the case then the entire country will go through disinvestment? This will leave no PSU under the central government’s control. How will the country run? I think this is a serious issue, which requires utmost attention,” added Banerjee.
She went on to question the Centre’s decision on the amalgamate of several PSU banks. She said, “The merger of the United Bank of India (UBI) with two other banks would pose problems for the state government. Several schemes of our government-run through banks, so if UBI’s headquarters is shifted out of the state, the future of these schemes might be in question.”
She criticized the center’s decision of Demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in 2016. She said, “India is a country where cashless society cannot be effective; people do not have money.”
Her comments on the central government were not welcomed by the BJP leaders.
A BJP leader said, “The CM should focus on Bengal’s development ‘instead of lecturing the Prime Minister on what is right and wrong.”
Dilip Ghosh, President of West Bengal and MP said “The CM should pay more attention to governance-related matters. She can’t govern the state properly and has a habit of lecturing others. In the last eight years, what has she done for the state’s industrial growth? She can’t tackle dengue menace but worries about the economy.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPM, termed Mamata Banerjee’s concern over the economic crisis as nothing but “crocodile tears” although even they criticized the Centre’s disinvestment drive.
Sujan Chakraborty, CPM Leader said, “We, too, want the decision to be rolled back. But when Banerjee protests, it is nothing but crocodile tears, because her government has sold several state-owned firms.”