Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday gave fresh impetus to the government's push for privatisation of non-strategic PSUs, contending that the "government had no business being in business." As he put it, it was not necessary for the government to sustain loss-making units on taxpayers' money, draining resources that could otherwise have been spent on public welfare schemes.
"It is government's duty to support enterprises and businesses. But it is not essential that it should own and run enterprises," the Prime Minister said at a webinar on the privatisation approach in the Budget for 2021-22.
As much as Rs 1.75 lakh crore is being targeted from the sale of government stake in firms such as India's second-biggest oil firm BPCL, national carrier Air India, the largest shipping line Shipping Corporation of India Ltd, helicopter services company Pawan Hans, IDBI Bank, and Container Corporation of India in the next fiscal year beginning April 1.
But while many party leaders have lauded the remarks, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy did not shy away from speaking his mind. In recent years, the Rajya Sabha MP has repeatedly taken stances that don't follow the party line, be it the holding of competitive exams amid the pandemic or the government's handling of the ongoing farmers' protest. Now, even as he expressed his support for Modi's remarks, the Rajya Sabha representative added a caveat.
"I fully agree with PM statement yesterday that Government have no business to be in business. But there is an essential implication: Business have no business to be in Government. If they do then it is crony capitalism," he tweeted on Thursday morning.
Allegations of "crony capitalism" against the ruling party are not new, having been an oft debated topic for opposition leaders. Most recently perhaps, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had accused the Centre of pandering to "crony capitalists."
"Forget putting cash in the hands of people, Modi Govt plans to handover India's assets to his crony capitalist friends," he had tweeted after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Budget. This is just one of the countless remarks he's made on the topic.