Lashing out at the Centre, the Congress charged that the National Monetisation Pipeline is a conscious effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create monopolies. Listing out sectors which are going to opened up for private sector involvement, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi claimed that “three or four crony capitalists will be the only beneficiaries”.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Gandhi and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the NMP is a scandal. Both demanded a wider discussion on it as the public wealth of the country is for sale. . “What this country has built over the last 70 years, is being given away. There is an excuse they have come up with that it’s being leased...The government clearly mishandled the economy and they don’t know what to do,” Gandhi said.

“To me, this is a huge tragedy,” he said and added that these assets will go to just three or four people. “These are the sectors those three or four people are interested in. Roads, railways, power transmission, power generation, natural gas pipeline, petrol pipelines, telecom, Bharatnet fibre optic, warehousing... You know who is going to get it. This is designed to hurt farmers. This is designed so to make one person a monopoly in agriculture,” he added.

‘Not against privatisation’

“Our privatisation plan had a logic. We didn’t privatise strategic industries and we consider Railways as strategic industry because it transports lakhs and crores of people and also employs lots of people. We privatised chronically loss-making industries. We privatised the companies that had minimal market share. We didn’t privatise government enterprises with the potential of checking private sector monopoly in a particular sector,” Gandhi said.

‘Need to debate issue’

Chidambaram said trade unions, workers, students, youth organisations must debate this issue. “You can’t spring a surprise upon the country without any consultation,” he said.

Chidambaram said the infrastructure building programmes, according to the Prime Minister, is worth a hundred-lakh crore rupees and now the NITI Aayog aims to monetise just rupees six-lakh crore by selling the wealth of the country. “This exercise has been designed without any ex-ante criteria. The Government should have spelt out what its criteria and goals. You don’t embark upon such a big exercise without first setting out the criteria and goals,” Chidambaram added.

CPI(M) said, “Selling the family silver to meet daily expenditure makes neither economic nor common sense. Selling assets for a song when the markets are low benefits only crony corporates and promotes crony capitalism,” the Left party said.

CITU said, “NMP is a pipeline of corruption while handing over public assets in private hands. It is a project of destroying national economy and bringing untold miseries to the workers and other sections of the toiling people,” it said in a statement.