Self-subservience, not self-reliance, say Left parties on allowing pvt players in Railways

(Eds: adding CPI reaction)

New Delhi, Jul 2 () The Left parties on Thursday opposed the Railways' decision to allow private entities in passenger train operations, saying the move not only undermined the basis of India's self-reliant economy but was anti-people and should be cancelled.

The Railways on Wednesday formally kickstarted the process to allow private players to operate passenger trains on its network by inviting request for qualifications (RFQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.

In a statement titled, "Privatisation of Railways would mean self-subservience, not self-reliance", the CPI(M) said, "The private sector utilising the network established over centuries with all the required infrastructure will run passenger trains making super profits. Advertisement

"The Indian Railways remains the most important network uniting our country and providing public transportation for crores of our people. The livelihood of crores of our people are dependent on the railways. Such privatisation undermines the basis of India's self-reliant economy.

It said contrary to the claim that the move will boost job generation, past experiences in other countries have shown that such privatisation results in huge job losses and creates insecurity among crores of employees.

"The Central Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi refuse to learn from international experience of how such privatisation of public transport has imposed unprecedented difficulties and burdens on the people. The Indian Railways is a public service. It is not a profit-generating enterprise. This character cannot be undermined," it said.

The party also criticised the move, saying the RFQ has been floated at a time when it is exposed how globally, as well as in the country, "reckless" privatisation of health facilities have hampered the fight against the coronavirus.

"Health, education, public transport are public services that need to be strengthened and not weakened through privatisation. The Politburo of the CPI(M) calls upon the central government to rescind this decision," it said. CPI, in a separate statement, alleged that the government is determined to hand over all the national assets and resources to the private corporates. Advertisement

"No sector of the economy and industry is spared. Coal mine, banks, defence, oil, insurance, electricity, telecom, space and atomic energy all are being privatized by the Modi regime. The latest target of privatisation is the Indian Railways. The BJP government has already decided to corporatise the production units under the Railways and to close down the printing presses of the Railways," it said.

The party also said any private entity investing Rs 30,000 crore will expect a huge profit from its investment resulting in huge increase in the railway ticket fare.

"Train which is the common man's transport will go beyond his reach. Railways is not a commercial organisation. Railways are for serving the people of the country. The BJP government does not have any concern about the common people of this country. This decision of operating 109 trains through private agency will take away the dream of the Indian youth including those who belong to the socially and economically downtrodden sections to get a railway job. Advertisement

"CPI condemns the anti-people decision of the BJP government and urges upon the government to withdraw its decision. CPI calls upon the railway employees, their trade unions and the people of the country to reject and fight against this retrograde decision taken by the Modi Government," the statement from the party said. ASG TDS TDS

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